By: Dylan Stagge
High school basketball prospects have been banned from entering the NBA draft since 2006. The NBA instituted the “One-and-Done” rule to force players to wait at least one year after they graduate high school to enter the draft. The rule is called the “One-and-Done” rule because most top prospects go to college for one year before entering the NBA draft.
This argument always seems to come up around NBA draft time, and once again, people argue whether prospects such as Ben Simmons should have been able to enter the draft last year. Simmons is entering the NBA this year after a somewhat unsuccessful season at LSU. Even though he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game, it seemed at times like he was just coasting through the season and wanted the fastest track to the NBA draft. The stats from big games, such as Kentucky and Texas A&M, showed his production declined and he was not willing to step up in big games (“Ben Simmons”). LSU had a mediocre season and the team did not accomplish much. Simmons was even disqualified for the Wooden Award because he did not focus enough on his classes (Goodman). So, was a year of college really beneficial for Simmons’ NBA career?
There have been many players who have skipped college to enter the NBA Draft. This includes success stories such as Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard. Kobe Bryant and Lebron James will go down as two of the best players ever, and Howard has had great stats and earned big contracts throughout his career. However, there are also lots of NBA busts such as Darius Miles, Kwame Brown, and Eddy Curry that entered the draft after graduating high school (“List of NBA High School Draft Picks”). In deciding if the “One-and-Done” rule is fair or not, an important point is deciding if more players will end up being successes or busts. According to the NBA, most will be busts.
They’re not necessarily wrong. Skipping college is not the best idea for all players. Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes tells about Damion James, who went to college for one year and realized he should stay longer. “[Barnes] cited former Texas standout Damion James as a player who benefited from the NBA’s minimum age requirement for draft entrants. James might have considered turning pro after high school without the rule. And that would have been a mistake, Barnes said. His first year in Austin helped him assess his true NBA stock. James ultimately stayed for four seasons before the Atlanta Hawks drafted him in the first round of the 2010 draft” (Medcalf). This shows how college can be beneficial for players to mature and know their true draft stock. Going to college can help players be smarter about basketball and more NBA-ready.
The NBA implemented the “One-and-Done” rule because they decided it was too big of a risk to draft high school players. The way the “One-and-Done” rule is currently comprised benefits the NBA greatly. Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim knows the NBA has the “One-and-Done” rule in their favor and there is no good solution for all parties. “’The NBA will not take kids out of high school; that’s a no-go,’ Boeheim says. ’It’s foolish to think about that, because the NBA doesn’t want those guys. The union, the player reps, they don’t want two years; they want to get them out as soon as they can. It’s just not a solvable problem’” (qtd. in Auerbach and Martin). This quote is very true. The “One and Done” system is a nearly perfect balance for the NBA. They get the players almost as early as possible, but still can judge if they will be good or not in the pros from their one year in college. This is a good solution for the NBA, but hurts players and colleges. The NBA greatly benefits from the college game and the “One-and-Done” rule because they do not have to pay players to have them developed for the extra year after high school. The college coaches develop the players so they are ready for the pros without the NBA paying a dime. They can scout college games easily because of the close proximity inside the United States. All of these things show how much the NBA is helped from the “One-and-Done” rule, but how much the players’ freedoms are limited.
Not being able to enter the NBA from high school puts some talented prospects in a bind. They cannot begin to play in their future league, so they either have to go to college, where there is no extra compensation and mediocre competition, or fly to a foreign country for a year for some compensation and mediocre competition to support their families. “Instead, they’re left playing in college for – often – less-than-market compensation. They’re stuck there so NBA owners (who don’t want to pay to develop their own talent), college coaches and administrators (whose salaries artificially inflated by the money their players aren’t allowed to receive) and marginal NBA players (who voted in a Collective Bargaining Agreement that excludes players who could threaten their jobs) can make more money” (Feldman). Some players are ready for the NBA, as players like Lebron James and Kevin Garnett have shown, but they do not have the freedom to go to the NBA after high school.
Overall, it should be the player’s choice whether they enter the NBA from high school. Every prospect and their family should be able to make their own decision whether it is worth the risk to enter the NBA Draft. Maybe entering the draft out of high school is not the best choice for everyone, but that is their decision, not the NBA’s.
Auerbach, Nicole, and Jeffrey Martin Sports. “One and Done, but Never as Simple as It
Sounds.” USA Today. Gannett, 18 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
“Ben Simmons.” College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Sports-Reference.com,
n.d. Web. 12 July 2016.
Feldman, Dan. “Kobe Bryant: College Basketball System ‘really Isn’t Teaching Players
Anything’.” ProBasketballTalk. NBC Sports, 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Goodman, Jeff. “LSU Coach: Ben Simmons ‘didn’t Meet Requirements’ for Wooden
Award.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 5 Mar. 2016. Web. 13 July 2016.
“List of NBA High School Draft Picks.” All About Basketball RSS. All About Basketball,
n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.
Medcalf, Myron. “Roots of One-and-done Rule Run Deep.” ESPN. ESPN Internet
Ventures, 26 June 2012. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.