NBA commentators often credit superstar LeBron James for being the prime force behind the player empowerment phenomenon happening in basketball today. This movement has shifted the balance of power away from ownership groups and back to the. As a result, players have enjoyed more financial leverage and a greater say when it comes to where they end up.
Player empowerment has also shined new light on the NBA’s so-called “one-and-done rule.” This policy prevents players from making the leap from high school straight into the NBA. Now, however, many people around the league are calling on the NBA to rescind this outdated policy. Here we take a closer look at the history of the one-and-done rule, as well as its pros and cons.
The one-and-done rule
The rule preventing players from jumping straight from high school to the draft took effect starting in the 2006 season. The rule was negotiated jointly by the NBA and the NBA players’ association, and included in the 2005 collective bargaining agreement. Despite its informal name, the rule didn’t actually stipulate that a player had to spend one year in college.
Instead, the rule governed the age eligibility of players entering the NBA draft. To quality for draft eligibility, the rule stated that players had to be at least 19 years old. Furthermore, the rule stated that a minimum of one full NBA season had to elapse between the time the player graduated high school and the time they entered the draft.
In other words, a player didn’t necessarily have to go into college. Yet they would have to wait at least one year before entering the NBA. While some players have opted to spend a year playing for professional leagues overseas, most accept that the only real option is to spend a single season playing for a college team, before dropping out to enter the draft.
Some notable players to go straight from high school to the NBA
Before the institution of the one-and-done rule, players had the option to enter the draft following their senior year of high school. That said, most still chose to spend time further developing their skills in college. In fact, between 1975 and 2005, only 40 players went straight from high school into the NBA.
While some of those players failed to make much an impact in the league, a surprising number went on to establish themselves as elite-level pros. Many have even ended up — or will soon end up — in the NBA Hall of Fame. Those players include all-time greats like Moses Malone, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Shawn Kemp, and the reigning best player in the world, LeBron James.
Pros and cons of the one-and-done rule
One of the main arguments for the one-and-done rule was that it would help raise the overall level of play in the NBA. By spending at least a year further developing their skills in college, young players would enter the league with a more developed skillset. However, opponents of the rule argue that players should be able to make their own decision about whether college ball would benefit them.
Other commonly cited arguments in favor of one-and-done involve ensuring better emotional and financial maturity, providing a more supportive environment, and promoting a better work ethic. Yet for players who ultimately only spend a half a year or so at in a college environment, most of those purported benefits never really come to pass.
At this point, support for the abolishment of the one-and-done rule is nearly unanimous among players. Recent NCAA college basketball scandals have only increased that feeling. Being able to enter the NBA straight from high school will ultimately allow players to take more control over their lives — both in terms of their basketball development, and in terms of the money they earn doing what they love most.