Inside ESPN and ABC’s Exclusive Coverage of the Inaugural Two-Day NBA Draft

Fresh off an exciting NBA Finals on ABC, NBA basketball is back on ABC and ESPN for the NBA Draft. For the first time the event will air across two days, and ESPN and ABC will be offering exclusive coverage.

“Hundreds of people… prepare for months for this event,” Malika Andrews, host of ESPN’s NBA Today and NBA Countdown, said. This is the third time Andrews will be hosting the NBA Draft, after becoming the first woman to do so in 2022.

ESPN and ABC will offer distinct NBA Draft broadcasts for round one on Wednesday, June 26. ESPN’s coverage tips off at 7:30pm ET, while ABC’s broadcast begins at 8pm ET. The event continues with round two on Thursday at 4pm ET on ESPN.

We spoke with Andrews more about how she prepares for such a busy event, how the ESPN team works to ensure a special presentation, and what’s most interesting to look out for.

The NBA Draft is one of the busiest events of the year for you. Can you walk us through your preparation?

I’m lucky to have an amazing team of researchers. Matt Williams and I are on the phone for an hour a day, sifting through prospects’ stats, stories and bouncing around ideas to best capture these players’ big moments. Gil Bransford and I have worked together on the last three NBA Drafts and he is my right hand during the event. Not to mention, Jonathan Givony, our draft expert, is the best in the business. Reading everything he has written through the year is essential.

What’s the most interesting thing about the NBA Draft from your perspective?

Watching the parents’ faces of the draftees the moment they hear their son’s name. It’s like watching the groom at a wedding the minute the bride appears: joy, tears, pride, excitement.

What makes the NBA Draft a special television presentation?

Hundreds of people — spearheaded by our wonderful producer Brian Boyle — prepare for months for this event. Editing features, preparing graphic elements, building relationships with players. But when it comes down to 8 o’clock, anything can happen. Any player can move up or fall, another could be traded. There’s no scripting the night — and that’s the beauty of it.

From a pre-event perspective, how do you get viewers hyped up for a broadcast that is ultimately Adam Silver reading names from a list?

This is a night about hard work paying off, lifelong dreams achieved, generational wealth earned. Those stories speak for themselves, but we certainly incorporate segments on these draftees on NBA Today.

What is one thing about hosting the NBA Draft that most people would be surprised by?

The entire group races to get to Shake Shack before it closes at the end of the night. It’s a tradition. We blame Jay Bilas.