There has been a recent uprising of pundits wanting to change the way that players become eligible for the draft in the NBA, the one and done rule, including current NBA commissioner Adam Silver.1 Commissioner Silver simply wants to increase the age of the draft of 19 to 20.
Here is the relevant requirements for underclassmen to enter the draft from the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement …2
(i) The player (A) is or will be at least nineteen (19) years of age during the calendar year in which the Draft is held, and (B) with respect to a player who is not an international player (defined below), at least one (1) NBA Season has elapsed since the player’s graduation from high school (or, if the player did not graduate from high school, since the graduation of the class with which the player would have graduated had he graduated from high school); and
(F) The player has expressed his desire to be selected in the Draft in a writing received by the NBA at least sixty (60) days prior to such Draft (an “Early Entry” player)
Basically, Silver would like to change the 19 to 20 and leave the rest the same.
I’ve had an idea for some time that Jalen Rose voiced on NBA Countdown prior to the NBA Draft Lottery. An idea very similar to the current set up of the MLB draft.3 Rose believes that players should be eligible for the draft immediately after high school, however, if they sign a letter of intent to college, they should have to complete at least two years of college before entering the draft.
My version makes players stay in college until after their junior season in college, but I’m flexible on that point. Here is the relevant section of the MLB draft rules.4
Certain groups of players are ineligible for selection, generally because they are still in school. The basic categories of players eligible to be drafted are:
-High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
-College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
-Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed
The junior college portion of these rules wouldn’t be too relevant for the NBA for obvious reasons, but the moral of the story is the same. The best of the best and those that think they have a chance at a young age are welcome to enter the draft following high school. Those that choose to hone their skills at the NCAA level won’t be eligible until after their junior (or sophomore) season.
This could be interesting with the possible impending changes coming to the NCAA student-athlete model, but until the NLRB ruling and challenges play out we can only guess what the draft would need to look like.
Players like Jadeveon Clowney in football likely had a chance to be successful beginning right out of high school. Future stars the caliber of LeBron James should be able to jump into the league and start working on their craft at the only level that will ever matter to them. Not every player should enter immediately from high school, but should that preclude the choice from being available?
I’ve been vocal toward my belief that players in football shouldn’t be forced to be student-athletes at the NCAA level in order to play in the NFL because of the violence of the sport and the short career span of players. However, this set up avoids a possible issue with basketball players being forced to stay in the NCAA until their junior year because players have the option to enter the draft or go to college after high school graduation. Simply giving the choice makes me feel much better about imposing a service time-like requirement on players attempting to enter the draft in any sport.
This draft eligibility blueprint has worked for the MLB and is also strikingly similar to how the NHL conducts their draft.5 Giving back the option of going pro immediately following high school, but enforcing stricter rules for those that choose college is a way for the NBA to allow the best of the best to join the league while allowing for the free minor league training that is the NCAA.