The NBA postseason has wrapped up, and the Golden State Warriors have left a smoking crater where a competitive league once stood. For the other 29 teams, the choices are these: Make bold moves to create a roster that can topple the 2017 champions, or resign themselves to years of stockpiling assets while the Warriors rule the world. Whether your favorite team is trying to get better, or to take shelter in a Sixers-esque bunker of ineptitude for the next five years, the 2017 NBA draft is the first step on the path. As such, we’ve created this streaming guide to help you watch the madness.
If you’re new to basketball, you’ve started at an exciting time, despite the embarrassment that was this year’s playoffs — the league is experimenting with new technologies like virtual reality and machine intelligence software, and even embracing esports. Although the NBA seems locked in a yearly struggle between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, there are plenty of young teams eager to disrupt the established order.
As the draft commences Thursday, 30 NBA teams will take turns picking players from the draft class. The first seven picks are awarded via a lottery, in which teams that did not make the playoffs have a number of ping pong balls based on how they did in the previous season; the team with the worst record has the most balls, and thus the highest chance of a top pick. After the lottery picks are awarded, teams pick based on their record, with lower-winning teams going first. The top five picks in order are: the Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the Phoenix Suns, and the Sacramento Kings. The complete draft order is available here.
The draft will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn starting Thursday, June 22, at 7 p.m. ET. ESPN will be presenting, so legal streaming options are limited, but below are the best ways to watch online without paying a dime.
If you have cable (or someone you know does) and the provider includes ESPN, you can stream the draft on WatchESPN via a wide variety of devices. In addition to the draft itself, ESPN’s coverage includes real-time commentary by basketball luminaries and analysts. WatchESPN also has apps for viewing the draft on on your mobile device.
If you do not have cable, there are several subscription-based streaming services that include ESPN, each with their own selection of channels and features. And while you may not want to put down the dough for such a service, the best part is that they all offer free, no-risk trial periods.
Sony’s live TV streaming service, Playstation VuePlayStation Vue, has access to ESPN, and thus the draft. Vue has a few different packages, but even the basic Access Slim package ($30 per month) includes ESPN. To sign up for Vue, you need a PlayStation Network account, and if you only want it for the draft, a free five-day trial is available.
Sling TV offers two packages, Sling Orange and Sling Blue, but Sling Orange ($20 per month) is the only one with ESPN. SlingTV offers new customers a seven-day free trial.
DirectTV Now’s most basic package, Live a Little, includes ESPN. This package is $35 a month, and is offered in a free, seven-day trial.
YouTube TV offers one package, priced at $35 a month, that includes ESPN and many other sports channels. The service offers an extremely generous 30-day free trial, as well, so it just may be your best bet.
Hulu with Live TV
Hulu offers a $40 per month package that boasts ESPN, and offers a seven-day free trial.
When in doubt, check Reddit
If you don’t want to try one of those sanctioned services, you can certainly find alternative streams online, though they will be of varying quality and dubious legality. A good place for live coverage and discussions — and possible links to streams — is the NBA subreddit, one of the most active basketballs communities on the internet. To be clear, Digital Trends does not recommend streaming via any illegal services, which can pose a serious security risk. Assuming you can tolerate tired memes and the insane ramblings of Sixers fans, however, /r/NBA is a great place for news posts, highlight videos, and occasionally, insightful commentary.