Heading into last week’s NBA Draft, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters that the league’s requirement that players must be at least 19 years old to be eligible for selection “isn’t working for anyone.”
The commish believes the rule, which has created what is known as the one-and-done trend – where top high school players go to college to play one year before jumping into the NBA Draft – should be changed to a format where players are required to be 20 years old.
When Silver refers to “anyone,” one would think he’s referring to the well-being of the players, the NBA and college basketball.
However, one of those three – the most important, the players – would further be fleeced if the age limit is changed.
I’ve never been a fan of the one-and-done format. If a player believes he is ready to go to the NBA straight out of college – and teams are willing to draft him – he should be allowed to go.
Did we really need to see Kobe Bryant or LeBron James in college?
As with most things, this issue probably comes down to money, the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about publicly. The fear of allowing players to go straight from high school to the NBA has to be that the college game will be watered down. Therefore, in theory, college TV ratings – and advertisements – would suffer if the one-and-done changes to none. If it changes to two-and-done, like Silver is an advocate for, the opposite likely would happen – college basketball would become more popular than ever.
Be careful what you wish for.
There’s a trend that is slowly creeping into the game, one that could make the age requirement meaningless if further enacted.
Case study: Terrance Ferguson.
Coming out of high school as a top prospect, the Tulsa, Oklahoma native decided to play professional basketball in Australia rather than head to college at Arizona before becoming eligible for the NBA Draft.
While he didn’t exactly light it up Down Under, it could be argued that he gained priceless experience playing against grown men while earning a paycheck and not having to go to classes while working on a degree that he probably would have never intended to complete.
It could also be argued that his draft stock dropped some as he was selected No. 21 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In the long run, that may not matter. Most NBA players make the bulk of their money on their second or third contracts, not their rookie deals.
So far, though, Ferguson is just the third notable player to take this route, following Brandon Jennings (2009 draft) and Emmanuel Mudiay (2015). While neither player has reached stardom, both have double-digit career scoring averages.
So, let’s play devil’s advocate.
Those against this route likely would argue that the level of coaching these players would receive playing overseas versus at a major college program would not be as effective. Therefore, the players would be less polished when they enter the NBA.
While that’s a fair point, people seem to forget the progress international basketball has made over the years. It’s hard to tell how big of a gap there is nowadays.
Overall, there’s certainly not enough case studies of the overseas one-and-done route to aptly compare.
However, if the path to the NBA becomes a two-and-done format, I wouldn’t be surprised if more players start to consider the path less traveled.
Consider that 16 freshmen were taken in the first round of the NBA Draft last week. That’s more than half of the first round.
Yet, now Silver wants a rule in which none of those players would have even been on the board.
The NBA is playing with fire here.
If I was a player coming out of high school who would be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft if rules allowed, I’d probably want to go straight to the league and get paid. However, if there was a one-and-done – or even more so a two-and-done – format, I’d have to seriously consider skipping the books, heading overseas and making some cash before heading to the world’s greatest stage.
The ultimate destination doesn’t change. But the path certainly could.
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans finish up an eight-game homestand with a four-game set against the Potomac Nationals from Monday through Thursday (all times 7:05 p.m.). … The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup heads to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. … The PGA Tour heads to Potomac, Maryland for the Quicken Loans National from Thursday through Sunday.