An NBA Youth Academy Is The Best Solution For Tanking And The One-And-Done

02.28.19 5 months ago

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The NBA community has the same discussions about the draft, one-and-done rule, and the issue of tanking every single year. The league has instituted new draft lottery reforms that will go into effect this summer, with odds smoothing to lessen the reward for having the worst record in an effort to get teams to try harder and not tank — the teams with the three-worst records all have a 14 percent chance at the top pick.

That may have worked to an extent, as teams like the Hawks and Bulls have been more competitive recently, possibly due to not feeling as pressured to chase after the worst record in the league. Still, teams like the Knicks and Suns are abysmal and, so long as the lottery exists, there will be incentive to have a worse record.

On top of the ever-present tanking discussion, the one-and-done rule is soon to be done away with, as the league has filed an official proposal to begin negotiations with the NBPA to roll the age limit back from 19 to 18 by the 2022 draft. That’s a step in the right direction to allow players that are clearly NBA prospects to enter the league immediately out of high school rather than having to delay getting paid for their skills.

Still, there are those that aren’t keen on lowering the age limit. The strongest argument on the side of forcing kids to go to college is that most players coming straight out of high school aren’t physically or mentally prepared for life as a professional. NBA teams like having what is, in essence, a free development program for young players at the collegiate level, but there’s a significant issue there as well.

The vast majority of college basketball programs rightly aren’t in the business of trying to get players ready for the NBA. They’re trying to win, which means playing a style of ball that doesn’t mirror what NBA teams play. Because of that, some players still have to wait to develop NBA skills until they’re in the Association — an example of this is Syracuse players who are not asked to play man-to-man defense in college.

The fault here is on the system that doesn’t give players the best chance to develop the skills they need to display at the professional level. The fix for this is to completely do away with the current model, taking a cue from a European sports model where professional teams operate youth academies that develop players internally from a young age.

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