The NBA offseason can sometimes be as interesting as the season itself. One of the biggest events post-Finals includes the NBA Draft, where teams and fans get to see where the top college (and international) prospects will start their careers. Especially in recent years, the players taken at the top of the draft are these “one-and-done” players, meaning they only spent one year in college basketball before declaring for the draft. This is due to the NBA age minimum rule the league instituted in 2006, making prospects be at least 19 years old or at least a full year out of high school.
Recently, there has been a lot of speculation whether or not NBA commissioner Adam Silver and league will change the age minimum rule. The players, fans, and media’s opinion is that players should not have to waste a year of their basketball career being unpaid and risking injury. However, recent comments from Adam Silver say that the league has looked into raising the league minimum age, not lowering it.
Most people are on one side of the fence or the other on this subject, which is fine. Everyone has an argument that makes reasonable sense on why the age minimum should be raised/lowered.
I’m here to tell you (and Adam Silver, if he’s listening) why even though the system might be perfect, the league should neither raise nor lower the NBA age minimum.
Lots of people are being critical of the NBA for the not lowering the minimum age back to 18 years old. There are some obvious pros to this thinking that mostly apply to the players themselves. If those high school prospects who know they will be first round draft picks after their one-and-done year is over would be able to get into the league, make money, and get experience sooner.
However, the history of draftee selected out of high school tells a different story. Of course their were some incredible players taken out of high school before 2006, including Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and LeBron James. All of those guys were sensational talents that were destined to be great. The problem began when every good high school player thought they should head to the NBA early. Guys like Sebastian Telfair and Al Harrington are examples of good high school players who could have benefited from college basketball, but couldn’t resist the NBA temptations. Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry are two of the most notable high school busts, who I firmly believe with more fine tuning in college, could have avoided that label.
This exactly is what the problem is: there will be more and more players who think they can make it to the league straight out of high school. When this happens, the league becomes watered down with these guys who did not have time to develop. It may seem like a good idea for the select few, but overall it is good for the league to get to see how prospects handle college basketball.
On the flip side, commissioner Adam Silver and other NBA officials have said they would actually prefer to raise the league’s age requirement to 20 years old. Their reasoning revolves around pushing players to focus more on being a student as well as an athletes, as well as making sure they have an adequate amount of time to determine if they should enter the NBA Draft. This would also give scouts more time to evaluate prospects, lessening the potential for players to be busts once they enter the league.
The NBA is and always has been one thing: a business. When hiring employees for a business, you always want the best talent. Why would the NBA prolong the best young players from entering the league? I like making players have one year out of high school to grow up and fine tune their game, but anymore than that is just overkill. While players could play overseas or head to the G-League, it just seems like dispersing talent is not a good thing.
The old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix,” which is a saying that applies to the NBA’s age minimum rule. The league is doing just fine, so let’s not mess with it.