- NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski found a clever way to continue his unparalleled coverage of the NBA Draft on Thursday night.
- Most major media companies covering the draft reportedly agreed to not announce the picks before they happened on television.
- On Thursday, Woj found a workaround, employing a bit of wordplay to hint at the draft's direction without technically reporting on the matter.
The greatest tradition of the NBA Draft found a way to continue on Thursday night.
The race for scoops was something that delighted NBA Twitter for years, and the art had no greater master than Adrian Wojnarowski, who made a name for himself on a national scale with his notorious ability to get ahead of the picks as they were announced on television with what became known as "WOJ BOMBS" across social media.
This year, with Woj having moved from Yahoo Sports to ESPN, where the draft is broadcast, reporters were expected to keep silent, in order not to spoil the televised product. Earlier in the week, Awful Announcing's Alex Putterman broke the news that NBA insiders would be discouraged from spoiling the draft.
As the draft drew closer and closer, Woj seemed to hint at how he would still be providing his inside commentary ahead of the broadcast. He dropped his first clue on Thursday afternoon, tweeting out how the first six picks of the draft appeared to be "taking shape."
Here's how the Top 6 of tonight's NBA Draft is taking shape: 1. Suns: Deandre Ayton. 2. Kings: Marvin Bagley Jr.; 3. Hawks: Luka Doncic; 4. Jaren Jackson, Jr.; 5. Mavericks: Mo Bamba; 6. Magic: Trae Young.
While a trade between the Hawks and Mavericks threw that initial prediction off after four picks, the tweet made clear that Wojnarowski was not prepared to completely give up his spot as the president of NBA Twitter on draft nights.
As the draft began, Woj continued to tweet out picks just before they happened, but always made sure to note that the news was based not on confirming picks, but rather mentioning players that teams were "targeting," "focused on," or "preferred."
Not surprisingly, all these teams picked these players.
@wojespn / Twitter
These tweets still kept with Woj's tradition of being the first to break all news relating to the draft, but differed from his previous years in one significant way — they were never written as definitives.
"Boston will select Jaylen Brown, sources tell Vertical," Woj tweeted while covering the draft in 2016. In this framing, Wojnarowski was reporting news as fact — the deal was done, and Woj was simply the first to let you know
By shifting his language a bit to focus more on what teams were "focused" on doing, Woj found himself a little wiggle room that allowed him to continue beating the broadcast with his Twitter feed.
The people of NBA Twitter quickly picked up on what Woj was doing, and expressed their appreciation.
Woj wearing out his Thesaurus tonight. pic.twitter.com/GMTYYsP4Cb Tweet Embed:
This is the most passive-agressive petty stuff. Woj officially 🐐 https://t.co/I9yV70ALEe Tweet Embed:
“The Knicks have been enticed by...”
“The Sixers fancy...”
“The Hornets have been entranced by...”
“The Clippers find _______ alluring...”
“The Nuggets are intoxicated by...”
Wojnarowski hinted to the New York Times that his style wouldn’t be changing this year, despite the edict that had reportedly been handed down.
"I will be aggressive in breaking news, including trades, trade talks and delivering our audience up-to-the-moment reporting and direction on which players teams are planning to select in the draft," Wojnarowski said.
The whole situation just goes to show — if there is NBA news to be reported, Woj will find a way.