The NBA's current age limit to enter the draft is 19 years old, but that could change in the near future. While speaking at his annual news conference following the league's board of governors meetings in Las Vegas, Silver said he was "hopeful" that the limit would be dropped from 19 to 18 in the league's next collective bargaining agreement.
Silver said changing the age limit back to 18 was "the right thing to do." The limit was switched from 18 to 19 in 2005 after many players - including superstars like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James - jumped directly from high school to the league. David Stern, the league's commissioner at the time, was in favor of raising the age limit to 20 years old, but the players weren't in favor of it, so 19 was ultimately agreed upon as a compromise.
"I think there's an opportunity [to change it]," Silver said, via ESPN. "It's [based on] larger conversations than just whether we go from 19 to 18, but I'm on record: When I balance all of these various considerations, I think that would be the right thing to do and I am hopeful that that's a change we make in this next collective bargaining cycle, which will happen in the next couple years."
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Silver noted that it's probably in the league's best interest to begin interacting with the players at a younger age in order to help them develop, both on and off of the court.
"It may be the case that it's in all of our interests that we start impacting with these young players, especially because in our sport they are identified at such a young age," Silver said. "And begin working with them on their development then, not just basketball skills but increasingly there's a focus on their mental health, their diets, just helping them build character and all of the important values around the sport."
Given recent changes in the sports landscape, including college players gaining the ability to be compensated for their name, image and likeness, and more players spurning college to play professionally overseas or even in the G League, it makes sense that the NBA would look to lower the limit. Sure, there will be players that enter the draft before they're properly prepared, but that's still the case today. If a player is talented enough to advance directly to the league from high school, they should be afforded that opportunity. It worked out pretty well for guys like Bryant and James.