New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently said that one of his top priorities is to raise the NBA age requirement from 19 to 20 in an attempt to eliminate the “one-and-dones” from the college game. It appears that NBA owners and the NCAA would be heavily in favor of this: NBA owners would save money because they will be able to draft players more ready for the NBA, while the NCAA would get another year of some of the top players in the nation. This rule would seem to help everyone — aside from the players.
But it is completely unfair to the players, especially the ones who are clearly ready to go to the pros. I understand for every superstar one-and-done like Kevin Durant, there is a Daniel Orton, who never does anything significant in the league, but it’s the GM’s job to evaluate talent better. If GMs are so worried about these one-and-done players, they don’t have to draft them — yet they still keep going at the top of the draft. The way that teams are drafting now also benefits players coming out early since players are being drafted based on potential. A lot of players like James Michael McAdoo hurt their draft stock tremendously by returning to school.
People will make the argument that the NFL requires players to be out of high school for three years before they enter the draft. Football and basketball are completely different, though. Basketball is a contact sport. Football is a collision sport. There are legitimate safety reasons behind making football players stay in college as long as they do before entering the NFL Draft and playing football against full-grown adult men. Kevin Durant is going to be league MVP this season and he’s not a big, strong bull, but he can more than adequately handle himself in the world’s top league.
A lot of top players have plans of getting to the NBA as soon as possible even when they’re still in high school. They are looking forward to that big NBA payday, but in the NBA, the second contract is the most important, and these big-time young players want to get to that big second contract as quickly as possible. I think players should be allowed to go to the NBA right from high school, but there are some benefits to players going to college for one year. They’ll get a little bit more notoriety while seeing how their skills compare to some better competition before going to the league. The NBA and NCAA are doing an injustice to these players by trying to keep them in college as long as possible where they don’t make any money.
Obviously, education is very important, but it’s not that important to everyone, and I don’t think the NCAA always prepares these players with “real educations” anyway. If they keep forcing players to stay in college longer, college basketball is going to lose more and more talented players to the international game or the NBA D-League, where they can at least get some form of paycheck. If a person can fight for our country at 18, why should they have to wait until 20 to play in the NBA?