MONTHLY: Is The “One And Done” Rule Almost DONE?
Last year marked the 10 year anniversary of the NBA’s “One and Done” rule. Under the new rule administered by then commissioner David Stern, potential NBA prospects were no longer able to go from Highschool directly to the NBA. 2005 was the last year players (Martell Webster, Andrew Bynum, Gerald Green, CJ Miles, Monta Ellis, Louis Williams, Andray Blatche, Amir Johnson) made the jump. Although not always loved, “one and done” has been accepted over the years, but the rule has remained a controversial one even a decade later the topic always calls for fiery debate when brought up amongst basketball fans who question if the league actually needs it and more importantly do the players really benefit from it.
Under the “One and Done” rule, NBA Basketball in the USA is unique among other pro leagues like Baseball, Golf or Soccer domestically and ever world wide where college isn’t mandatory nor is there an 19 year old age limit just to play. Overseas basketball it’s not uncommon to have kids begin their pro career in their teens playing with grown men. These youth (usually basketball prodigies not unlike a teenage Lebron) often represent the best and most popular players in their respective countries and some even end up with successful NBA careers. Names like Ricky Rubio, Dennis Schrouder and more recently Giannis Antetekoumpo are great examples of this and shed light on one of the biggest criticisms of “one and done”.
Imagine if Giannis was banned from playing pro ball in his home country of Athens, Greece until he was 19? Considering his rough childhood and life story before Basektball, it’s likely he’d still be selling toys on the street, or even worse, deported with his parents back to Nigeria. Instead, playing pro overseas and ultimately in the NBA today has saved his life. Unfortunately Giannis’ situation is not so different than what’s facing the youth here in the USA. For them the NBA is their immediate way out of some pretty bad situations. Makes me wonder how is the NBA implementing “one and done” a good thing? More importantly why the NBA is so adamant on making kids wait until they’re 19 or graduate Highschool and complete at least go to college 1 year before entering the NBA.
This is just one side of the case against “one and done” a popular view point that has been expressed countless times over the years to no avail. If ending the rule for the players sake isn’t enough, how about doing it for the NBA.
Remember the greatest NBA player of this current generation, Lebron James, did not play college basketball. And like many players to enter the league straight from Highschool before him, Lebron was immediately one of the most exciting players to watch in basketball and over the past decade has played major role in the NBA’s success. One could argue, all this has been possible because “one and done” rule wasn’t in effect when he graduated from St. Vincent-St. Mary’s. Who knows what would’ve happened if the “King” had took his talents to North Carolina and became a Blue Devil or Tar Heel back in 2003.
Fast forward to 2017 as the Cavs are on the verge of getting swept out the NBA finals and the window of the “Lebron ERA” appears to be closing, it seems the whole debate has come around full circle. The same old questions surrounding “one and done” has resurfaced coincidentally during the biggest time in NBA basketball and the debate is back in the headlines as Adam Silver recently made comments that, the 19-year-old age limit is failing both the league and college basketball. Apparently, he wants reform or at least is leaning towards it.
But how is Silver, the same guy who previously suggested RAISNG the age limit to 20, now doing a complete 180 degree turn on the issue. Whats behind his recent change of heart. Well, the state of the NBA for one. Remember Highschool players have produced some of the best talent ever to play the game. Names like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady.
Clearly the rule doesn’t hurt a players chances of succeeding the NBA if they are truly ready, and history has proven those who actually skip college for the NBA usually are ready. So why not let them come? If NBA is the ultimate goal for most college star players to begin with, why stop them from going straight there.
Of course, most 18 year olds are NOT ready for the NBA and these players obviously belong in college. In this case, one or two years in college helps develop a players game and the “one and done” rule actually protects the players as it was intended. But when NBA ready type of talent are forced to play in college risking missing on making millions, who’s really getting protected? Not the players or their families and friends.
I’ll tell you WHAT is being protected.
The University of Kentucky, home to the Nations most popular Basketball team, lately has become synonymous with the term “one and done” where the act has become rite of passage for it’s star athletes so much show that theres an entire film dedicated to the UK phenomenon. Under the infamous head coach, John Calipari, the program has landed more top recruits than anyone other school and as a result produced more top NBA draft picks than any other in school. It isn’t uncommon for all 5 starters (mostly freshman) from the team to enter the NBA draft any given year and the process just repeats year after year. Having this caliber of talent on ONE college team alone has made college basketball must see TV year after year, and the NCAA millions of dollars.
Consequently the “one and done” rule does hurt the NBA but inadvertently. The rule and moreso the year college players who are ready for the NBA are in limbo for a year playing for teams like Kentucky have created a culture of tanking thats plaguing the league lately. The concept if taking has became the running joke in the league amongst fans, sports media and even players who aren’t afraid to admit it’s a reality.
Teams tanking coupled with the amount talent lost to college every year is slowing down the league from being the best it can be.
I recently read on a twitter response regarding Silver’s new openness to change the “one and done” rule saying that:
He (Silver) must mean change NBA to one and done becuase march madness is 100x more entertaining
The comment took me a few reads, but I got a good kick out of the thought of players leaving NBA to college – just imagine this NBA playoffs being as exciting as the last NCCA tournament was. This will never happen and is besides the point. The point is, the state of College basketball is fine, and will always be whether Highschool players like potential 2017 number 1 draft pick are forced to play it or not. But the NBA, however, is in danger.
Despite it’s high ratings and entertainment factor, right now theres a general consensus among basketball fans that the post season as a whole is lacking, competitiveness, passion, and spontaneity that it once had. All the things college basketball is characterized by.
Bringing this element back to the NBA would be great. And one way to do that would be bringing more talent in every year; the best, YOUNGEST talent.
Would ending the “one and done” rule solve all the problems of todays NBA?
I don’t think so. but it’s defeintely worth a try.
The NBA is at a point of transition, it needs change. It needs to be competitive again and fast. The best way to achieve this would be by building up another pool of ELITE talent fast where teams can form in hopes of to competing in a new league that ruled by Superteams like the Warriors instead of tanking and rebuilding over a decade like the 76ers appear to be. It’s great to “trust the process” as Sixers star Center Joel Embiid would say, but fans these days don’t have patience to wait even one year let alone 5-10 years in process of fixing the NBA. The regular season was about as bad as it get. Who wants to see another 3-4 years of Warriors/Cavs finals.
Seeing players like 16 year old Zion Williamson -pictured above on the current cover of Slam magazine- dominate Highschool the same way Lebron did at the same age is just writing on the wall. If Silver ends the “one and done” rule, in just a few years Zion could have the same impact on the game as James at only 18 years old. Further, players like Chino Hills freshman guard LaMelo Ball, who recently scored 92 points in a Varsity game might opt to join his older brother Lonzo early and take his talents to the NBA instead of UCLA. That’s just two out of potentially dozens of high school players who could reshape the landscape of NBA within the next 2-3 years if Silver elects to lift the “one and done” rule . Only time will tell.