Author: Dawson Haywood
While players from the NCAA make up a large amount of the draft pool each year in the NBA draft we are seeing more and more top recruits and players either taking their talents from overseas or coming from overseas. Players like Giannis Antetokoumpo, Luka Doncic, and LaMelo ball all entered the league at 19 years old. Players Like Zion Williamson, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Anthony Davis are all notable one-and-done players that easily could have been picked up coming out of high school if not earlier.
Before Giannis was drafted into the NBA he had already been playing professional basketball and had the talent to enter the NBA at a young age. Players like Zion Williamson and LaMelo Ball could have arguably found their way to a starting position before reaching 18 years old. It is no secret that these three players could have been lottery picks before they were allowed to enter the draft so why does the NBA prevent players from entering the league before they are 19-years-old or have played one year of college ball?
Maturity is one of the biggest arguments in why players are not allowed to enter the league until they have played one year of college ball or until they are 19-years-old. LaMelo and Zion were 16/17 years old when they first came onto the scene and we all knew that they were going to be special. I think back to when I was that age. If I had had the talent to go to the NBA at that time would I have gone? At that young of an age, my biggest concerns were my high school girlfriend and how the heck I was going to pay for the both of us to get to prom. A lot of growth happens between 16 and 19-years-old and maybe this is something that the NBA considered when making this rule. On the other hand, we have a handful of European players that have been playing professionally and establishing their brand since they were 14/15-years-old. It’s easy for a less mature player to make a few mistakes that could end their basketball career but entering into a big-time position causes these players to grow up quickly.
I think of Zion and his injury at Duke in that game against Carolina. What if that had ruined him as an athlete completely? He would have had no shot at making money because of his talents and it is no secret that the kind of money an NBA player makes can set their families up for generations even if they are being paid the league minimum of $898 thousand a year. We hear all the time NBA players and athletes from across various leagues coming from nothing. Why prevent them to make that change in their family’s and their own life?
My dad made a good point to me before. There are some players that come to schools like Carolina and Duke and establish that fanbase. Seeing and comparing players from different schools is fun. Nick Bosa mocking Baker Mayfield after sacking him in an NFL game adds to the rivalries that are established in the NCAA. I’m not here to say that college sports do not hold any value for big-name players because it does.
Talent is talent. To me, it does not matter how old a player is. If that player is 13-years-old and can make an impact on an NBA roster they should be allowed. The NBA is supposed to be a collection of the world’s best basketball talent and because of rules they have in place, they are leaving some of the best talents to be played in college and overseas. Imagine if Zion had entered the league at 17-years-old, made the All-Star Team, and led whatever team to the NBA playoffs. ESPN and other sports sites would never shut up about it.
It is rare that we find talent that can enter the highest level of competition of sport at a young age so it’s not like the NCAA and other organizations wouldn’t have their pool of highly talented players coming in and out of the organization. I just can’t help but think “What if?” for these players. Where would Zion and LaMelo be right now if they had those extra two years in the league to develop? What if?
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