The NBA and the NBAPA signed off on a new collective bargaining agreement this past winter that will take effect in July and last until the 2023-24 season. Despite the agreement being signed off on, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBAPA’s executive director Michele Roberts circled back to a rather important topic that affects the NBA and the NCAA: the one-and-done rule.
During the CBA negotiations back in the winter, the topic of one-and-done players was put on the back-burner as it was something that they were allowed to return to once they were able to agree on all of the other aspects of the agreement. Silver stated that they decided to focus on getting the economical issues of the agreement renewed so that some genuine thought could be put into the issue of when players should be able to declare for the draft.
On The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Fox Sports 1, Adam Silver told Colin that they are re-thinking their position on the OAD rule:
"Selfishly, while I love college basketball and I'm a huge fan of college basketball, I worry about potential stunted development in the most important years in players' careers, because the coaches in college don't have the same control they used to, because these guys know they're out of there. And it's amazing, there's very little movement. If you look at the draft projections for these players going into their first year in college, it holds fairly true. Maybe there's a little bit of movement, but these young men, they're followed so closely from the time they're 13 or 14 on."
Silver then spoke out again about the issue before Game 1 of the NBA finals:
“My sense is it’s not working for anyone. It’s not working for the college coaches and athletic directors I hear from. They’re not happy with the current system. And I know our teams aren’t happy either, in part because they don’t necessarily think the players who are coming into the league are getting the kind of training that they would expect to see.”
According to Adam Silver, the NBA’s formal position is that they would like to raise the age limit from 19 to 20 for when a player can enter the draft. The NBAPA’s position according to Silver, however, is that they would like to lower the age limit back down to 18 where it was before the OAD rule was in place.
To focus on the NCAA end of this issue, the OAD rule has produced quite an interesting dynamic in college basketball. It is widely known that John Calipari has embraced the one-and-done rule for basically the entire existence of the rule itself. Duke and Kansas are two other schools who have had a solid amount of OAD players since 2007.
There is an idea out there in the sports world that if the NBA were to lower the age limit back down to 18, that it would ruin and/or adversely affect college basketball, which isn’t necessarily true. One reason is that teams that have had multiple one-year players have produced a mixed bag of results, as THB’s own Jake Lawrence pointed out in an excellent three-part series analyzing teams in the OAD era. If we were to look just at Final Four runs alone, Kentucky hasn’t managed to pull away from other schools by recruiting such a high level of NBA-ready freshmen. In fact, they are tied with UNC with four Final Four appearances with various schools right behind them with 2-3 runs themselves.
There is also a system that was implemented last year that lets players enter the draft process and attend the combine to be evaluated before choosing whether or not to stay in the draft based on the feedback they receive. This process is valuable because right out of high school players could get evaluated by the pros, and if NBA executives / staff felt like their game is good enough to go into the draft right away, then those players could choose to do so.
However, if we are to assume that players would have to stay in college for 2-3 years should they chose to go that route, then some of the nation’s best players would be showcased at the college level a lot longer than they have been for the past 10 years. The ability to opt out of staying in the draft could prevent bad NBA draft decisions and create a lot more sustainable college talent than years past.
It should be very interesting to see what comes of the discussions between Silver and the NBAPA. One way that the NBA could go is to adopt an MLB-style rule where a player must either enter the draft right out of high school, or they must attend college until they turn 21 or complete their junior year, whichever comes first. Another option that was mentioned by Silver himself is utilizing the D-League (which will soon be called the Gatorade League or “G-League” for short) as a feeder system. This, however, would require substantial salary changes that would allow for such a system to work. We shall see what happens in the coming months, but depending on how discussions go, we may be seeing big changes for college basketball very soon.