When I asked Kenny Smith which 2010 NBA rookies he was most looking forward to watching this upcoming season, he relayed an opinion no doubt shared by a lot of basketball fans:
“I’m looking forward to all of ’em, because we’ve only seen them play about 30 games,” Smith said. “You look at the best players in the Draft, the guys in the Top-5, and a lot of them are freshmen who haven’t played that much, so we don’t really know how good they are. So I’m anxious to see them in the summer league, I’m anxious to see them in the preseason, so we can get a gauge of how good they really are.”
On a larger level, NBA GM’s are similarly curious despite having scouted these players up and down. John Wall, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins and Xavier Henry may have future All-Star ability, but their resumes are shorter than players who went to college for three or four years. That unknown factor is one reason (besides the obvious financial/marketing benefit) the League enacted its 19-year-old age limit in the first place five years ago. Too many teams had gambled on raw high school talent and lost, and the skill level in the NBA was seen as going downhill with more and more athletic but not well-schooled ballplayers entering the League.
In the meantime, the age limit has created the rise of the “one-and-done” era. Players who likely would have gone pro right out of high school — and those who maybe would have stayed more than one year originally — are going pro after their freshman seasons at a higher rate than ever before. One reason: Players have realized that the younger you are when your rookie contract runs out and it’s time to get that second contract, the better it is for you financially.
High-profile basketball figures like Bob Knight have railed against the one-and-done rule, saying it makes a mockery of the “student” part of “student-athlete.” Others have said it hurts the college game on the court as well, since coaches are put in a tough position deciding whether to recruit a player who will most likely stay very briefly in the program and hurt continuity. And are the players who come into the NBA after one year of college ball really that much better off physically?
How do you feel about the one-and-done rule?
Tell us in the comments section, and we’ll run some of the best answers in an upcoming issue of Dime.