You have always loved to build things, and this love has made you good at building things. So after high school you go to your uncle’s construction company and apply for a job to help build things. Your uncle then says, “I’m sorry, I know you are excellent at building things, but I don’t think you are old enough and ready to work hard to do this. You need wait a year, and then you will be more prepared.”
Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Not only because it’s a pretty silly analogy, but also because it wouldn’t make much sense to tell somebody they aren’t ready to work this year, but will be next year.
This is what the NBA has done.
It started in 2005 in the collection bargaining agreement known as Article X. It’s a provision that required all potential NBA draftees to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from their high school graduating class. This has led to players going to college for one year, only to bail and then make the jump to the pros. It has been more popularly named the one-and-done rule.
This provision was meant to protect unprepared high school players from the challenging transition in going to the pros while also giving NBA teams more of an opportunity to evaluate potential draftees on the college stage. College teams were even going to benefit by having high-level players now coming to play for at least one year.
This was supposed to be good for everyone . . . except it hasn’t worked.
The one-and-done rule forces high school players to give up multimillion-dollar salaries, requires them to take part in the sham of an unwanted college semester (most don’t attend classes after the season ends) and puts them in a position with very few options.
If anyone can explain how this rule is helping high school players, I would absolutely love to hear it. This might protect the Kwame Browns and the Darius Miles of the world, but it leaves out the LeBron Jameses and Kobe Bryants.
To deny the opportunity for someone who thinks they can make it is ridiculous. Who is the NBA to tell the next Kobe that he isn’t ready? Let him figure out on his own whether he can make it or not.
Not to mention that the rule doesn’t guarantee with any greater accuracy that a player who played in college will be better suited for the NBA. Look no further than last year’s No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett, for an example of it not working.
There might not be a perfect solution to this. Increasing the age limit has its drawbacks, as does leaving it where it is. Major League Baseball allows players the choice of going to the pros right out of high school or going to at least three years of college. Maybe using this as model is the way to go.
Hopefully sooner rather than later, something will give. The NBA is getting a tiny portion of what it expected from the age limit, but the restriction greatly discriminates against high school players and makes a mockery of the college game. Nobody is happy with this or getting exactly what they want. This discontent should then be an agent for change.