The Nerlens Noel injury has sparked heated discussion about the NBA draft restriction. While this injury is not a reason for changing the rule, the rule can be expanded to make terms more equitable for all parties involved. Right now the NBA, NBA Players Association, NCAA and individual players are not on the same page and the rule is helping and hurting each group.
The NBA is missing out on certain talents but keeping out underdeveloped players. The NBAPA is keeping jobs longer for veterans but having iconic players increases their value, thus making more money for every player. The NCAA is getting some great talents for one year but is being used by the NBA as a training ground. Players are being forced to use a year to become more educated (on and off the court), which is not a bad thing, but some are missing out on a chance to take advantage of their peak value.
Here is a proposal that could change the scene for each of these groups of people.
Increase roster sizes and the NBA draft to three rounds with predetermined values for draft slots. Make every player coming out of high school eligible for the NBA draft. Any team that drafts a player out of high school must pay for his college education for two years while said player plays in college. At the end of his second year that player can choose to sign with the team that owns his rights for his predetermined value based on draft position or remain in college and re-enter the draft the next year.
How the NBA wins: They still keep underdeveloped players like Johnathan Bender and Kwame Brown out of the league for now two years. Now those players have an incentive to go to good coaches to develop their game and come into the league more ready to play.
How the NBAPA wins: Continues to elongate players careers by keeping young players in the NCAA for two years and increase roster sizes provides more jobs.
How the NCAA wins: NBA teams pick up the tab on a lot of scholarships? Cha-ching. Players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant playing for us for TWO years? Cha-ching.
How the players win: Players get to take advantage of their draft stock at their peak, whether that’s coming out of high school or taking advantage of college development. Players also can have a little more control over where they end up playing. What if LeBron didn’t want to play in for the Cleveland Cavaliers and was enjoying his time at Duke? He would have reclassified and been eligible for the 2006 draft which would of landed him with the Toronto Raptors. Yikes.
There are two big issues that arise. One, would the NBA be willing to increase roster sizes, which means owners are paying more players? Two, can the NCAA find a way around the amateur status of players having their education paid for by an NBA team?
This kind of system would add intrigue to the draft process. Can you imagine the San Antonio Spurs scouting department digging up Damian Lillard out of high school? It also gives players protection. Nerlens Noel would have had the security of already have been drafted and knowing he could just recover and come back and play one more year for Kentucky before then taking up his spot in the NBA.
Come on people let’s start thinking outside the box and make changes that help everyone.