Is The NBA Draft Age Being Lowered?

By: Jack Glassman—Sports Editor

The NBA draft age has been at a minimum age of 19 since 2005, but the NBA Player’s Association and NBA are thinking about lowering it back down to 18. Many young prospects of the league are looking for big money earning options coming out of high school, so if the NBA lowers their draft age back down, this could give prodigies an option to make quick millions. 

Players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett came to the NBA straight out of high school to become superstars, but since 2005, many high school stars have had to tend to the “one-and-done” rule where they go to college for one year before the NBA. 

Teams have drafted players coming straight out of high school in the past with the hopes of securing an all-star caliber player. “Franchises are hoping to get their hands on once in a lifetime players like LeBron, Kobe, and Kevin Garnett,” said SHS English teacher Mr. Heller.

One of the issues of drafting high school players is that the competition level is much lower in high school than it is in college. “You can be the best high school player in the country, but there’s still college players that can be better than you,” says high school player Matt Baur.

High school player Dante James says the exact opposite, and he thinks that high school players nowadays are more mature and skilled. “I think now younger players are more mature and developed and better at a younger age,” said James.

Making the NBA draft available to 18 year olds could also cause an extension to the draft as there would be more talented players declaring for the draft. With or without the draft age lowering, some feel that the sport of basketball has outgrown only 2 rounds.  “There’s so much talent in the world. How are you going to limit the draft to just 60 players when basketball keeps growing as a sport?” Jack Bates said.

While there are success stories of players entering the NBA directly from high school, there are also stories of failure. “For every player you can think of like Kobe and Garnett, there are at least two to three other younger players that crashed and burned,” said Heller. 

The riches and fame of the NBA causes a lot of stress on young players, although for those who go to college first, the complementaries of the big league is nothing new. “A lot of good things come from going to college before the league for players…more education, more athletic maturity, and now with NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deals, players can learn to manage their money before making millions in the NBA,” said Baur.

Some prodigies would love to go to college before the NBA, but the NIL deals don’t supply the immediate wealth that the NBA does. “If you’re 18 and are predicted to be a top NBA player, you’ll be looking at real endorsement deals with millions of dollars,” said Heller.

The man who makes the ultimate decision, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, is in favor of this possible draft age change. “I think there’s an opportunity to change…it’s based on larger conversations than just whether we go from 19 to 18, but I’m on record: When I balance all of these various considerations, I think that would be the right thing to do,” said Silver.

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