Changing The Age Limit To 20 Would Be A Good Move By The NBA

Adam Silver Adam Silver has officially taken over as the new NBA commissioner. And one thing he has immediately mentioned is the age limit in the NBA. Silver has mentioned that he would like to change the age limit in the NBA from 19 to 20 years of age. This rule would effectively make it where kids would have to stay in college for two seasons after graduating high school. Of course this rule has been met by some pushback from some fans of the game. But overall, this rule would be excellent for the NBA.

Over the years, the NBA has become a league where offenses have become hard to watch. Some of that can be attributed to the specialization of the game these days. But a lot of blame lies on the development (or non-development) of players when they enter the NBA. More often than not, we see players enter the NBA that are not physically or developmentally ready to play. As a result, players tend to either sit on the bench while they develop, play before they are even ready or get sent down to the D-League. In some instances, this works out. But in other instances, the underdevelopment of a players leads to a quick exit from the NBA. By allowing the kids to stay in school for a minimum of two years, this could let them develop more and also would help produce a better product on the floor in terms of developed players.

Another good positive would be reflected in the salary cap for teams. A lot of times, teams draft these players without them being able to be contributors right away. That leads to money being tied up in players that will not help your team. With a two-year minimum, it decreases the chances of having underdeveloped players tie up salary. That would allow teams to have more money to get that veteran that may be the missing piece to their championship run. Or for teams with lower expectations, it would be a chance to make the playoffs with a good piece they would be able to add.

We witnessed LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady enter the NBA right out of high school and many feel that should be what the league allows. All four have had successful careers in the NBA. But for all the success these four had, some tend to forget the stories of guys like Korleone Young and James Lang. Young was considered one of the top high school players in America as a senior at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. The 6’7” small forward was thought to be one of the top picks taken in the 1998 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, things did not work out for Young the way he wanted them to. He was drafted 40th in the NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, only to play three games and be cut by the team. Young never played in the NBA again. Lang was a 2003 high school All-American and he felt he was good enough to take his talents to the NBA. Apparently, NBA teams did not think as good about him as he did himself. Lang was drafted with the 48th pick by New Orleans but he was waived by the team after he was deemed to not have shown ability to be on the active roster by GM Bob Bass. After a couple of 10-day contacts and some D-League stints, Lang was eventually out of chances to prove himself. Both Lang and Young were talented kids, but there were underdeveloped and maybe by going to college they could have developed more skill to hang around longer in the NBA. But instead, they are now nowhere to be seen on the NBA scene. Allowing the college option to be there would be great for some kids because some will find out that they were not as ready as they originally thought they were. And with that, they could start to work on parts of their game that could get them ready.

Ultimately, I believe this rule will be put in place. It helps not only the NBA but college basketball. And maybe with this rule, we can get back to a less watered-down product on the court in college and the NBA. In the end, it’s about having a kid be prepared for life along with the spoils of the NBA and college can help that kid prepare for both at the same time.

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3 Responses

  1. Lee Love

    Way back in the day a player couldn’t go pro until is college class graduated which was why Wilt Chamberlain played briefly with the Globetrotters after leaving Kansas, when the ABA came along they had something called hardship clause which allowed players to play in their league earlier(Johnny Neuman out of Mississippi was the first)…until that rule college play was better because top players couldn’t leave school. If the age limit was raised to 20 we might see even more competitive college play and hopefully a more mature person when they enter the professional ranks. Should be interesting to see where this goes.

  2. Shanitra

    Oh, how I have been waiting for an article like this. I am 130% with them
    changing the age to 20yrs old. It will help with the development process and not leave these talented kids lost at the end of the bench. So much talent but not enough development and assistance. Please I hope this happens sooner than later.

  3. The assumption underlying all of this, of course, is that this new age minimum would prevent the mass exodus we see each year from college to the NBA. While it might certainly have *some* impact, I think you’d see a lot of really great prospective talent still leave college to go to other professional basketball opportunities. After all, if you’re a kid in college who would normally go first round but can’t because of a new age limit, would you be content to bide your time—not getting paid–for another year when you could be playing (and at least earning a pretty salary) in a professional league elsewhere? An argument could be made that they would be compelled to stay at their school in the hopes of an (obviously) better potential payday in the NBA…but maybe not. Each year that you don’t make the transition to the pros is a year of your already-short career that you are not getting paid.

    I think NBA teams, while they certainly want as good of players as possible in the draft, would not want to lose out on the top talent from each year to other leagues that might be able to make enticing offers. I think they’d rather pony up the money to develop these talents in their own systems, rather than try to lure them back (at which point many of them would cost more money than they would have under the old regime).

    Ultimately, though, the worst part of this idea is that it really extorts the kids who would normally be able to draft out of college. They would be forced to choose between continuing to play in college (for no pay), or bypass a potentially large pay-day in the NBA to try their prospects in other leagues. Either way, it’s a bad decision being forced on them. If the kid has the talent to play, and someone is willing to give him sacks full of cash because of it, let him play. These arbitrary age restrictions are just plain ridiculous.

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