Blogtable: Time to rethink age limit?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Extend the season? | Rethinking age limit? | Upset-minded East playoff team?


> An attorney for the NBPA says the union will fight to lower the age minimum during the next round of collective bargaining, and says that forcing players to attend college for one year is “completely ridiculous.” Agree or disagree? And why?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Disagree for multiple reasons. One, it’s not “completely ridiculous;” that’s simplistic rhetoric for a topic worthy of legitimate debate. Two, the NBA is within its rights to set hiring policies. It doesn’t have to provide all jobs for all high-school graduates who want to get paid to play basketball. Getting NBA scouts out of high school gyms is a worthy objective. Not starting multimillion-dollar , guaranteed contracts for players so raw their deal is nearly up by the time they’re able to perform is a better one. I don’t give a hoot about the impact on NCAA basketball, but the NBA is a better league when its players (with rare exceptions) have developed more and grown up a little.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Because it is arbitrary. Because we live in the United States of America, where the right to make a living should not be inhibited. And because one year of college does nothing to help the quality of either the NBA or  college games.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comIf the union wants to take a stand on bargaining away the jobs of current members, that’s on them. I can’t imagine it would be a very popular one among the rank-and-file players, primarily the many players whose goal will be to stay employed. Opening the door to more teenagers will increase the difficulty. On the specific topic at hand, though, my position for years has been to lower the age limit, while understanding it’s not the majority opinion. I don’t buy the part about “completely ridiculous” because there is a credible case to be made for requiring a prospect to be 19 years old in the calendar year of the Draft. I just think it doesn’t stand up. Also, point of clarification, no players are being forced to attend college for one season. Go overseas and make money. Go to the NBA D-League and work on your game while making gas money on top of it. College is a choice, not a demand.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: The NBA isn’t restricting anyone’s ability to play basketball right out of high school. Anyone can go the Brandon Jennings route and play overseas and make money right away. The NBA is a big-boy league and, therefore, is only right to protect the quality of the game by imposing the current rule. One year of college isn’t a lifetime prison sentence. It not only allows 18-year-olds to spend another year learning the game, but maturing as young men, which sometimes gets lost in the desire to cash in immediately.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The league and its teams should invest more in the NBA D-League, so that it’s a full 30-team system with salaries that can compete with those in Europe or China, or at least make it easier for the country’s best non-NBA talent to stay home. The D-League is where players can go out of high school, get paid, get scouted, and become NBA-eligible in one or two years. More players getting paid more money, without taking any out of the pockets of the players who are already in the league, sounds like a good deal for the union. And if the best 18-and 19-year-olds were in the D-League, the NBA and its teams would get a return on their investment via ticket and TV revenue.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I’m a believer in the freedom of choice for anyone old enough to take care of him or herself without the aid of a consenting adult. So I’m fundamentally opposed to the idea of an age limit beyond a prospect’s graduating senior class in high school (or the international equivalent). I agree with the union’s premise that it’s completely ridiculous to force anyone dreaming of playing in the NBA to do anything other than abide by the same rules we ask anyone else who reaches the age of adulthood to abide by. Where we part ways, however, is when we talk about the value placed on the college experience. I think any experience gained while away from the comforts of adolescence is extremely valuable. And I’m thinking about more than just basketball. Some of these guys need to grow up a bit before being thrust into the fishbowl. Bottom line? Allow a prospect to enter the league after completing high school and then give them the opportunity to make their own, grown-up choices about what to do with their own lives.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comThe union is fighting on behalf of high school seniors who, for the most part, will contribute very little as rookies because of all they have yet to learn. The union is not thinking about the larger consequences for the NBA overall, because that is not the union’s job. My opinion is that the NBA would benefit from a minimum age of 20 years, which would make sense especially if the NBA D-League became a highly-competitive league that helped players to develop and mature while teaching them how to win for the sake of the team. That scenario would create a better rookie class in addition to more jobs for the union.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: It is completely ridiculous, in that it just seems so random and arbitrary. Why one year of college? And why is the NCAA so complicit in this — the players don’t even have to really go to class to maintain eligibility for one year. At the same time, I get it from the player’s point of view, in the sense that the later guys get into the NBA and get on the clock with their rookie contract, the older they are when they finally hitfree agency. This means they might only get one big free agency contract instead of two big deals, which could be a difference of tens of millions of dollars. So are the guys in the league today really OK with passing that money along to guys who are in high school today? Maybe so. But I’d be surprised if they don’t want some for themselves. Either way, it doesn’t make sense.

8 Comments

  1. Self Proclaimed Hater says:

    I 100% agree with John Schuhmann. Invest in the D-League. With the new TV deal on the way this will increase the amount of money needed to enable this. The NBA could adopt a baseball style farm system where each of the NBA teams has their own D-League (reserve) team. Each team could have say 25 players under contract and call up/send down throughout the season as required.

    And do away with the 19 year old age limit for the draft. Perhaps even add a 3rd round to it. This would allow the best high school players to enter the draft and earn some money. Rather than hurting the college game with all the one and done kids that don’t want to be there.

    Everybody wins. You’re looking at a better D-League product. You protect the integrity of the college game. And more jobs for players so the union should be happy.

  2. 18, 19, 20. OK so at what age does a player reach maturity? – why is no one considering this question in the context of what’s being debated right now about the Knicks and whether they should trade their pick or ‘cash in’? whether to try to ‘win now’ or ‘build for the future’. If the age limit is lowered, high draft picks will – arguably – be of less worth / higher risk, and then: what would be the point of losing to acquire them? It’s a conondrum

  3. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    You don’t need a degree to play in the NBA…

  4. BringThaNoize says:

    Censored my comment…the NBA ain’t nothing….but greedy….

  5. harriethehawk says:

    Most of these guys who enter the NBA do so because it’s their destiny; they may not have had any other strong alternative career goals (placing all of their eggs in one basket) to make a living other than basketball. Allow them to be independent and wealthy as soon as possible. And for those who decide to stay on and play in college and maybe even long enough to earn a degree, smart thinking. Being in the NBA is a dream come true. Go for it guys, you only live once.

  6. lacolem1 says:

    Yes, it’s completely ridiculous and arbitrary. No, the average 18 y/o will contribute little to nothing to an NBA squad, but neither will the veteran he’ll likely replace. So I don’t buy the argument that the overall product will be hurt. If an 18 y/o’s has the necessary skills or potential to be employed at the professional level, let GMs perform their due diligence and hire them.

    And I dare anyone to provide statistical evidence that high school draftees are more likely to “fail” in the NBA than any random college draftee.

    Are there arbitrary age and experience limits to working in a front office? To being an owner? To scrubbing the toilets of NBA arenas?

    • KG says:

      Did you just say that I couldn’t replace anyone when I first came into the league? Do you agree with this kid, Kobe, LBJ?

      • Desmodeus says:

        No dude he didn’t. Perhaps if you’d learned to read you might have noticed he said “the average 18 y/o”. Are you seriously suggesting that Kobe, Lebron or KG were in any way average 18 year olds?