|Freshman classes like Kentucky's last year can be great while they are in college, but Kentucky is proving it's tough to rebound when they're gone. (claysdaze.com)|
BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among three of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.
This week's question: John Calipari, the maestro of pulling successful performances from freshmen, coached the Kentucky Wildcats to a national championship last spring. With UK (12-6, 3-2 in the SEC) facing a down season and showing flaws in the all-freshmen strategy, is now the time for the NBA to think about changing the one-and-done draft rule?
The one-and-done rule, even with all of its flaws, would make it seem like it is best for both parties. The NCAA gets a piece of the limelight from the biggest stars, if only for a season, and NBA gets players who are a little more seasoned and won't have to make such an extreme jump in talent level.
It doesn't look to be as positive for the NCAA as the organization may think. The NCAA gets players like Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist winning a championship one year, and Kentucky being on the verge of missing the tournament the next. Players leaving early did the same for UNC, although many of them were sophomores and juniors. This puts the college coaches in a much more difficult situation. They spend an entire season incorporating these great players into their systems and then have to start over the next year when they leave, making it much more difficult to win at a high level for multiple years.
The problem is some special players are talented enough to make the jump from high school to the NBA, but countless more are not and head to the Association before they are ready, damaging their careers. Instead of having a hard one-year rule for everyone, let a player enter the draft out of high school if he is truly ready, but if they do not, make the rule similar to the NFL where players have to be three years out of high school in order to enter the draft. That way the players who truly could be ready can go to the NBA (I actually really like my colleague Alex's idea of having them in the D-League for a year) and the rest of the players will benefit from three years of college or overseas basketball to hopefully prevent them from ruining their careers by leaving before they are physically and mentally mature enough. It will also improve the college game as it may lose out on the occasional Anthony Davis's, but overall this would enhance the playing field as the other great players have three years to awe the college basketball world and learn from great coaches.
The ball is in the NBA’s court here since the league decides age limits for the draft, though the player’s union could request/pester a reversion to the former high school-to-the-pros standard. From a business standpoint, the answer lies somewhere between one-and-done and the direct route. Rather than requiring a player to spend one year (or any amount of time, for that matter) in the NCAA or with an overseas club, the NBA should allow players to enter the D-League straight out of high school. This not only allows the NBA to enhance the branding of its second tier, theoretically making it more marketable and appealing to some kind of broadcast deal, but it also means the players would be competing at a level between collegiate and professional ball. They would be exempt from call-ups and 10-day contracts, obviously, but would be eligible to enter the draft after one season. Thanks to the NBA-ready coaching they would receive, these young talents would have more refined skills upon entering the selection pool. There are many flaws to this plan (losing the marketing momentum of those with the skills to make a direct jump, missing out on promotion received on the NCAA stage, etc.), but I’m just spitballing here. The Association pays other people to resolve these issues.
Some people are loyal fans of either the college or pro games, while some like me have interest in both. As a member of that demographic, I would love to see a rule that requires a player to be 20 before entering the draft. This would give them A) an undergraduate experience that connects them to a program’s fan base and B) a sizeable amount of time to develop their game under one coach, whom they have had a say in selecting for themselves. It also gives them time to mature personally and from a basketball perspective with progressively serious stakes under typically more experienced coaches at each level.
Ever since the one-and-done rule was conceived, there has been a lot of controversy over the rule. There are some good arguments for the rule, but personally I think the rule is a joke.
It seems the main reason for the rule is to make the player at least try college for a year, but the players rarely do that. In many cases, like Josh Selby at Kansas, they only go to class the first semester and then ignore classes the second semester, since it doesn’t count toward their eligibility. The rule makes a mockery of higher learning systems.
The second reason the rule fails is because it makes the game much less exciting. Who wants to watch a final four when you know that all of the players are going to bolt next year? I know this was a problem before the rule, but it is definitely a problem now. The rule should be changed to make the kids go for two years or for none at all. Two years is enough to make the students take some serious classes and help with their maturity. But I also understand that these kids have a freedom of choice and shouldn’t have to go to college if it isn’t necessary. As of right now, the rule is of little benefit to anyone.
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