Alternatives to ‘One-and-Done’ to Disrupt Tradition

In a recent press conference earlier this month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver touched on a number of topics and issues surrounding the league, including the controversial one-and-done rule. Silver expressed his indifference toward the rule, which the league adopted in the 2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement. He called for a change, but was vague in his solutions to fix it. The issue is far from black and white.

The rule, which says that players must be at least one year removed from high school, was essentially re-approved in the CBA last year“My sense is it’s not working for anyone,” Silver said as he addressed members of the media.

Ironically enough, Silver’s comments came just hours before game one of the NBA Finals, when Kevin Durant, perhaps a poster child when it comes to the generation of one-and-dones, overwhelmed Cleveland dropping 38 points in a Golden State blowout win. On the other side was one of the greatest to play the game, LeBron James – a player who impacted the game immediately after wrapping up his high school career.

A solution seems impossible to come to when players have carved out different paths to success. Some came from high school, some were one and done in college, and some expereienced long collegiate careers before finding their way to the NBA. While the rule is backed and enforced by the league, it has had a much bigger impact at the collegiate level.

During an interview with Colin Cowherd earlier this month, Silver made his intentions clear that he does want to call for a change in the process. While the league wants to up the age from 19 to 20 years old, the NBA player’s union wishes to see required age drop from 19 to 18. Silver said the league is “rethinking” their position on the ruling.

In the league’s first year of inception with the one-and-done rule, there were two players who classified entering the 2006 draft. They were LSU’s Tyrus Thomas and Memphis’ Shawne Williams. That number of freshmen entering the draft has jumped to up to as many as two dozen expected players who are vying for a pro contract in the upcoming draft. But is there that much of a difference between high school grads and a few months experience at a collegiate level?

Players’ roads to success varies greatly. Two of the most compared players in the sport had very different backgrounds prior to playing professionally. While LeBron James made a seamless transition from the high school level to the pros, Michael Jordan made a name for himself at the University of North Carolina long before he led the Chicago Bulls to waves of success.

Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett both had Hall of Fame Careers coming straight out of high school

With pros and cons speaking to both “sides” of the issue, there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong solution. The NBA should look to decrease the restrictions on how players enter the league, allowing prospects different avenues to the pro level. And why not? It’s worked for arguably every other major pro sports leagues.

The NBA could look at other CBA models from the industry. The MLB, for example, offers a few different routes for their prospects. A player can declare for the draft immediately following high school graduation when presented with a contract, or is eligible after completion of their junior year at a four-year institution. The NBA however, could consider dropping the three-year requirement to a two-year one. It’s a process that has worked for baseball. While there is a big difference between baseball and basketball as far as player-impact goes and starters to roster ratio, a reformed way could be an option.

Already established outlets are getting a face lift, too. A bigger focus is to be had with the D-League, soon to be called the G-League or Gatorade League. An increased revenue will allow the developmental league to establish a true minor league setup with players having direct relationships with all 30 NBA teams. The revamping of the G-League would benefit the NBA, but could have a drastic and negative impact on the college game. Highly regarded talent who have their eyes set on being a pro may see very little reason to attend college at all, thus resulting in a negative impact for the NCAA. The “minor league” will be a pipeline of talent taken right from high school.

The incentive isn’t just to gain exposure from pro teams, but also to earn money through contracts which would relieve many players’ financial burdens – something that cannot be done while playing in college. Even when earning a scholarship, there is little to no point when most don’t see themselves in college for more than a year.

While the rule remains in place for seven years thanks to the most recent CBA which was signed in January, the NBA and NBPA can reopen negotiations and work to find an answer that will satisfy both sides. We can expect to see this topic grow after the NBA season is complete.

For more hoops talk, follow The Hoop Group on Twitter at @TheHoopGroup.

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