There’s no easy answer to the question of when young players should be allowed to enter the NBA, but one thing’s for sure: nobody likes the current system.
Over All-Star Weekend, commissioner Adam Silver discussed the NBA age restriction, which currently states that a player must be 19 years old or at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class to be eligible for the NBA Draft. The rule has led to the advent of “one-and-done” players, who declare for the draft after their freshman season in college, sometimes dropping out of school immediately after basketball season ends.
Both Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts want to see the rule changed, but they’re on opposite sides of the fence. Silver hopes to raise the age minimum to 20, while Roberts wants to bring it back down to 18, so players would be free to enter the NBA directly out of high school as they could in the past.
The issue was tabled during recent negotiations for the Collective Bargaining Agreement that goes into effect next summer, but Silver expects it to be changed before the next CBA in seven years, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver.
“[Roberts] and I both agree that it’s the kind of issue that needs to be studied, in essence, outside of the bright lights of collective bargaining ... I think [deadlock on the issue during CBA talks] requires that we take a new look and a new approach to the issue.”
One popular idea that could serve as a compromise would be to allow a player to enter the draft out of high school if he chooses, but if he decides to attend college then he wouldn’t be eligible again until after his sophomore year. This is the model that Major League Baseball uses (players are eligible after their junior year rather than sophomore year), so there’s precedent that it could be successful.