The NBA Might Eliminate Its One-And-Done Draft Rule By 2021

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The NBA’s one-and-done rule is on its way out, and it seems the league and its general managers are getting a better idea of exactly when that might happen.

As this season’s draft approaches, the league seems to be setting up the end game for its restrictions that essentially force high school players into college basketball for at least one season. Condoleezza Rice’s college basketball commission ruled in April that the rule should end, and NBA players and even coaches seem intent on seeing things revert back to normal.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote on Friday that the league sent a memo to teams outlining potential changes to the draft moving forward.

The network had obtained an earlier draft of the memo that said the league’s “eligibility rules” might change as early as 2021, partially because the NBA is looking into issues “related to player development and the corruption investigation in college basketball.”

The memo does not mention the one-and-done rule by name, but it is meant to remind teams that the league and the players union could agree to scrap one-and-done before the expiration of the current collective bargaining deal in 2024 — and perhaps well before then, sources say. The memo says that, as of now, the league does not expect changes in draft eligibility rules to take place at any time “prior to the 2021 or 2022 draft.”

If such a change were to happen, it could create a single draft loaded with the best prospects from two consecutive high school classes.

Lowe’s report does bring up an interesting wrinkle in changing the rule: it’s going to potentially create a much deeper, or at least much larger, draft class whenever the rule is finally eliminated.

That might not matter for critics who want to see the rule go away as soon as possible, but if teams know when the rule is expected to go away they can tinker with their picks and draft strategies about a potentially loaded class whenever the one-and-done rule finally goes away.