July 17, 2011

Should the NBA change its draft rules?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college basketball coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: In the ongoing negotiations between the NBA and the NBA Player's Association, the league's draft rule could be changed. The league wants to keep the current rule (players aren't eligible until one year after high school graduation) or even make it two years after graduation; the union would like to see a return to the old rule, where a player was allowed to enter the draft out of high school. Which do you prefer?

David Fox's answer:
Like any college basketball fan, I loved watching Kevin Durant and John Wall play at Texas and Kentucky. Just because it's fun and exciting, though, doesn't make it right. Those two and dozens of others should have had the opportunity to go directly to the NBA after high school. The age limit is an unfair restriction on these players and their earnings. When a player is ready for the NBA (i.e., when a team is willing to start paying him), he should be in the pros. If there must be a compromise, though, I'd prefer to see a rule similar to the one in baseball, which requires you to spend three years in college (or two in junior college) if you don't sign with a pro team out of high school. That gives the top draft picks the ability to cash in and prevents coaches and programs from chasing one-and-dones year after year.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
The NCAA has no say in the matter, which is unfortunate. But I think a compromise can be reached that is good for the NBA and for college basketball. First, players should be allowed to go straight to the NBA out of high school if they wish. (It would be nice if there was some guidance given to those thinking about making such a move from the NBA office, but even if there was, there still would be players who would listen to their inner circle rather than NBA types and thus make gigantic mistakes.) But while players should be allowed to go straight to the NBA out of high school if they wish, those who decide to go the college route should have to stay in school for three years, which is the same rule there is in baseball (and football, for that matter, though the NFL isn't clamoring to sign prep stars like the NBA and MLB have done). One-and-done players are making a mockery of the system. Frankly, though, a three-year commitment is a pipe dream, I think, so perhaps the NBA and the player's union would be willing to make it a two-year minimum in college ball as long as prospects also were allowed to go right to the NBA out of high school.

Jason King's answer:
Even though players such as John Wall have benefited greatly from one year of college, I think players should be able to enter the NBA draft straight out of high school. Forcing them to attend college for a year leads to more bad then good. The recruiting process has become much more corrupt, with coaches compromising their ethics to get the next one-and-done phenom, who has no reason to attend class after the first semester, thus making a mockery out of the system. While one-and-done players have helped certain schools, they've definitely harmed others. It's challenging to develop consistent team chemistry from year-to-year with so many players leaving. Just ask UCLA. The best scenario would be to have a service sponsored and operated by the NBA to advise these kids whether to apply for the NBA draft out of high school. That would cut down on some of the poor decision-making we saw in the early 2000s, when kids were allowed to make the jump. I also believe that once a player enrolls in college, he must play at least two seasons before entering the draft.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'd like a system similar to what's in place with baseball. Under this plan, basketball players would have the choice of entering the NBA draft straight out of high school. But if they did decide to enroll in college, they would have to stay in school for at least three years before turning pro (two if they attend a junior college). That plan would give the game's brightest prospects the freedom of beginning their pro careers immediately rather than using college as a one-year apprenticeship. This lack of so-called "one-and-done" players in the college game also would give the schools more stability because they'd know when a player's enrolling that he's likely to stay with their program for at least a couple of years. I think this plan would be better for the players because it would give them the choice of turning pro immediately. It would be better for the college game because teams that previously relied too heavily on one-and-done guys now wouldn't have to worry about rebuilding on the fly. And it would be better for the schools because the one-and-dones occasionally have ended up hurting the APRs at the places they attended.



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