The Single Biggest Myth About The NBA Draft Age Rule

By: 11.29.11  •  33 Comments
Amar'e Stoudemire

Amar'e Stoudemire (photo. Jonathan Mannion)

So they think they need a committee to study this stuff huh? It shouldn’t take a genius or even a formulation of a number of basketball minds to figure this one out, but as Yahoo! Sports is reporting, the NBA and the Player’s Association are discussing whether to form a committee to study the age minimum for the NBA draft with “the possibility that no immediate changes to the ‘one-and-done’ rule will come in the finalization of the new collective bargaining agreement.”

Good. Maybe they’ll finally discover what I’ve been saying all along.

There’s been too many instances to pinpoint just one person, but I’ve heard some semblance of the same argument over and over again for the majority of my life. A few days back I wrote my take on the NBA age requirement and whether pushing it further to two years, or even having one at all, was a good idea. While there’s no proof going to college helps iron out the wrinkles in your game, I think I can speak for most who say that feeling is probably true. At the very least, time spent in college should help round out any player’s game. But all in all, abolishing the high school-to-NBA route is incredibly unfair.

The reactions from many players affected by the rule are all over the board, although I bet many are simply PC answers. From a recent ESPN piece:

DeMar DeRozan: “So I’ve always been against the age rule. It was tough when I found out about it. I think I was 17 at the time and every kid when they were in high school, the first thing they talk about is going pro.”

Donte Greene: “Just being able to be young and not have responsibilities … once you leave college, it’s real life out there. You have bills. You have responsibilities. Not saying I wasn’t ready, but it would’ve been nice to have another year to be a kid.”

B.J. Mullens: “The rule, it’s taking kids’ years away from playing in the NBA. If a kid is good enough to play in the NBA at age 17, let him play. You know, the ball isn’t going to bounce forever. Guys think they have 15, maybe 10 years of being a superstar player, but the average NBA career is about 4.5 years.”

Mike Conley: “But at the end of the day, you’re like, ‘Man, I gotta manage my bills, I got all these other issues that come with all this money and all the attention, the responsibility of being an NBA player.’ It’s hard to deal with especially at 19 or 20 years old. Most people don’t deal with that until they’re 30 or 35 years old, so it’s a different kind of world.”

Cory Joseph: “I never really had any say in the rule. I would probably leave it how it is right now. I think the one year in college really helped me out. There are some players, like LeBron and maybe John Wall, exceptionally great players, you know, maybe they could have made the leap from high school, but I think that college helped me out a lot…”

DeMarcus Cousins: “I was in middle school when the rule came about. When I first learned about it, I had mixed opinions. In a way, it’s good because a kid needs that college experience — to go through those changes and being closer to being an adult and learn that responsibility at the college level. At the same time, I don’t believe the rule should be put in place because it’s predicting somebody else’s life…”

DeAndre Jordan: “When I first got my apartment I was 19 and I just sat in there alone and was like ‘Who am I gonna hang out with?’ In college, the guys you hang out with are your age and they don’t really have anything to do after practice besides homework and just stay at the apartment, so I had to get used to staying at home by myself and picking up new hobbies.”

Many of the truths surrounding the issue we hold on to are fabricated, born out of decades of untested beliefs and quite honestly, make us out to be arrogant parent figures. We don’t know what’s best for other people. These aren’t our children. We can’t say for sure one way or another how someone’s career will turn out. It’s their decision alone.

But the one myth I’m determined to end, and also the argument I hear used most often to force players into college is that we are protecting them from themselves. Because of us and this rule, we won’t have so many high school busts. Five years down the road we won’t need to look down the list and see the names of kids who screwed up and never made it.

Besides the arrogant aspect, that’s all fine. The problem? It’s entirely not true.

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