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David Stern still wants to add a year to the age limit

Apr 3, 2012, 6:11 PM EDT

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant AP

From the AP:

The league wasn’t able to change its draft eligibility rules during collective bargaining last year. The rules require an American player to be 19 years old and a year out of high school. The players’ association would only agree to form a committee to discuss changes, and it is unlikely to consent to an increase without some concessions from owners.

While Stern says the NBA ”would love to add a year,” he’s pleased that the age limit, instituted in 2005, has kept NBA scouts out of high school gyms.

While forcing NBA players to attend an extra year in college is a nice enough theory, the actual merits of an increased age limit are questionable. Even if you get past whether or not it’s morally right to not allow NBA-ready players who are old enough to vote and have jobs to play in the NBA, the fact is that there are a lot more options for young basketball players to make money outside of the NBA than there are for young football players to make money outside of the NFL. Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and countless other players certainly haven’t struggled in the NBA: in fact, Bill Simmons’ top 4 picks for MVP this season have a combined 2 years of college experience.

On top of that, an increased age limit could lead to more players going overseas, like Brandon Jennings (who would be considered a success story) or Jeremy Tyler (who would not be considered as much of a success story) in order to get a payday and a more comfortable life for themselves and their families. Eliminating prep-to-pro players was one thing, and the merits of that decision can still be debated; increasing the age limit by a year would seem to be pushing it.

  1. shockexchange - Apr 3, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    The “economist” in me says that mechanics like age-limits lead to inefficient markets. The “realist” in me says that “might makes right” and the NBA will keep tinkering with the age limits and introduce other methods to tip the balance of power into the hands of the owners.

  2. rick1v - Apr 3, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    I couldn’t be more annoyed than hear Stern and the NCAA talk about wanting a 2 year rule. It’s completely self-serving for both groups. The NCAA gets to make more money by having their indebtured servents for 2 years, and Stern’s league gets an extra year to evaluate players, reducing the chances of whiffing on a pick.
    No one complains about baseball players, tennis players, golfers, heck computer nerds, who forgo college to go straight to the pro’s.
    How about going back to no restrictions on turing pro? Then you can do away with the charade of players who want no part of college, being forced there in the first place. I dare say it might make the college game better – you’ll probably players who really wanted to play college ball staying longer and making the teams more cohesive, and making for a better brand of ball.

    • cured76 - Apr 3, 2012 at 7:14 PM

      in baseball, there is the minor league system, which is the rite of passage all players must take (at least the US-born ones). You just don’t see high school players jump right away because the level of competition is substantially higher and they struggle.

      Tennis players and golfers aren’t employed by a team, per se. They have to sink or swim on their own. If they don’t work out, a team isn’t out millions of dollars in cap space in guaranteed money. Advertisers aren’t part of this equation.

      Computer nerds? Really? What’s the pro nerd system, besides “getting a job?”

      Your last paragraph has some good stuff in there. Age doesn’t quantify how mature a player is or how they conduct themselves as a person. Lebron was able to handle it, and so were a handful of others, but on the other side there are lots of kids with NBA dreams that are simply in no way ready for it and they take bad advice and throw their college careers away. Then there are those who play in college but never bothered to better themselves through studies and hard work; they just wanted to be treated like Kings on their pit stop to the pros. It’s difficult to quantify that, but it helps the NBA to co-opt with the NCAA, as you said, so there you have it.

  3. drunkenjunk - Apr 3, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    I still want Stern to go away. These kids can make a good living one year out of college let them. They’re not hurting anyone and like rickv1 said its completely self-serving for Stern and the league doesn’t benefit the players.

  4. rgledz - Apr 3, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Who cares what that giant douche wants. He does whatever is best for his agenda anyways.

  5. jumbossportsblog - Apr 3, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Reblogged this on jumbossportsblog.

  6. gonzomyk - Apr 3, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Why not compromise and do it kinda like MLB. Either go straight from high school or wait two years. It lets the kids with star level talent go to the league and lets other players develop. It also helps by giving teams more time to evaluate players. But like rickv1 touched on it doesn’t help the players who should be getting paid for all the money they are making for the schools and the NCAA.

  7. iamanidiotfan - Apr 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    I prefer the way hockey does it. You can draft a kid in NCAA. If they’re good enough, they could make the jump right away, like Kobe or Lebron. If they’re not good enough to start, then leave them in the NCAA, and give them some training and coaching tips to improve to make it to the next level.

    Like Washington’s Wroten, who’s declared. Someone drafts him, leaves him at Washington, and tells him he needs to work on his outside shot, work on his dribble and his defence. After a year of work, he’s more ready to start at the NBA. It’s what a lot of NBA teams do with European prospects; they’ll draft them, get their rights, give them coaching and training tips, but leave them in Europe and bring them over when they’re ready to play in the League.

    I’ve never understood how NCAA hockey players can be drafted but still play NCAA hockey after being drafted, but NCAA basketball players cannot. Is there some reason for that?

  8. vikingsinla - Apr 3, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    Make the NBA age limit 21 years. Then, they could adopt the motto: “When you can get drunk, we’ll let you get dunk”, and all the NBA’s alcohol/beer sponsors would love it, because they obviously definitely all approve and support any laws that require Americans to be at least 21 to legally consume their products. Obviously and definitely.

  9. eugenesaxe - Apr 4, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    Let them come out at 18 and spend a year in the D-League.

  10. 6thsense79 - Apr 4, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    14 of the 26 all stars in this year’s all star game played 0 or 1 years in college. Over half of your all stars! That doesn’t include young rising players such as Monta Ellis who never went to college, John Wall’ Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, ETC. This makes 0 sense. Of the four major sports the NBA is by far the easiest sport to spot and project a high school player’s level of success once he turns pro. The sport Stern tried to compare his 2 year ruling to, the NFL, is the hardest to predict the success of prep players. Another thing that bothered me about the current age restriction and Stern’s proposal is it only applies to US born players but not over seas players. WTF! How is that fair! So the next Ricky Rubio can get drafted by the NBA at age 17 but the next Lebron or Kobe would have to wait till age 20? Why?

    • drunkenjunk - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      Well said.

  11. losangelasbasketball - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    hasn’t stern done enough damage… get that clown out ….

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