ESPN NBA Draft Coverage Will Feature a Confessional, Exclusive Robin Roberts - Wemby Interview


The Worldwide Leader will air draft coverage on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Radio and various digital platforms starting at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday night. While the San Antonio Spurs are all-in on Victor Wembanyama, ESPN will try to balance coverage of the NBA's next big star with a number of other players who will have their names called. Coverage across all channels will emphasize humanizing and personalizing the players through profiles, interviews and a new confessional feature.

The crown jewel of the night is obviously Wembanayama, the 19-year old French phenom and ESPN has been consciously ramping up coverage of him over the last year. The Draft will be an opportunity to showcase the access they've been cultivating throughout his last year overseas, culminating with a revealing sitdown with Robin Roberts at a Paris cafe.

On a media call Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Shiffman, the Senior Vice President of Productions, explained all that had gone on with the coverage of Wembanyama as ESPN tried to prepare their viewers for the NBA's next big star, which included acclimating Brian Windhorst to the finest French customs.

"We were strategic all season long," Shiffman told The Big Lead. "Collaborating across social platforms and linear shows like SportsCenter just to make sure that his highlights from his games throughout the season that you could find anywhere on our platforms and make sure fans were aware of what he was doing. It's obviously different than had he gone to a college setting or the G-League or what have you. Then more on the longer form, Jonathan Givony was over in France this winter and had a profile feature on Victor under the SC umbrella that debuted in May about 10 days out from the Lottery. Now we have a second feature with Robin. So I think it was sort of an incremental build of the highlights, the clips, the viral moments every day."

Of course ESPN isn't just building the entire draft out of the top pick. The network has spent months planning and producing features on some of the other big names in the draft. Scoot Henderson, Brandon Miller, the Thompson twins, Jordan Hawkins, and Dereck Lively II are among those who will get profiles.

In addtion to that, ESPN is debuting a new confessional camera, which Schiffman says will humanize the players. "They will talk from the heart about their emotions of being drafted or give unique aspects to get to know them," he explained. "It’s not stuff that was put on tape a couple of weeks ago. It’s live and in the moment and I think it adds to our humanization and personalization of the players for both broadcasts."

All of this will supplement the personalities on the ground at the Draft. On ABC Kevin Negandhi will host a more family-focused broadcast alongside Stephen A. Smith (the Roberts interview will air on ABC). Meanwhile, Malika Andrews will anchor the coverage for ESPN and be joined by JJ Redick, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Monica McNutt for a broadcast aimed at more hardcore basketball fans.

On top of that there will be red carpet coverage, a preview show, ESPN radio coverage, podcasts, and SportsCenter. Between all that you will also be able to hear from Cassidy Hubbarth, Elle Duncan, Kendrick Perkins, Richard Jefferson, PJ Carlesimo, Cory Alexander, Windhorst, Kirk Goldsberry, Kevin Pelton and Sam Ravech.