NBA Draft

5 Reasons to Lower the NBA Draft Age to 18

5 Reasons to Lower the NBA Draft Age to 18

In a press conference on Tuesday (July 10, 2018), NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced he was ready to lower the minimum age requirement for the NBA Draft to 18. This was a long anticipated decision that has immediate impact on both the NBA and College Basketball landscapes. The NBA Draft age requirement has sparked a lot of debate over the years, however lowering the age requirement to 18 is a win-win-win for the 18 year olds, the NBA, and College Basketball. Here are the top five reasons why.

1. Freedom to Pursue Opportunity

At the age of 18 Americans become adults in the eyes of the law. Being that this country is founded on principles of personal freedom and economic independence, it seems unjust to prevent anyone from profiting off their talents and reaping the rewards of their hard work.

The counter-argument here is that 18 year olds are not ready for the NBA and that 18 year old “kids” should get an education. This counter-argument may be well-intended but it is extremely presumptuous. Allowing others to determine what is best for free individuals and their unique personal situations is wrong and unfair.

2. 18 Year Olds Have Already Been Successful Entering the NBA Draft

The assumption that 18 year olds are not ready for the NBA is both incorrect and irrelevant. For one there is a lengthy list of supremely talented 18 year olds who were ready for the NBA when they skipped college and entered the draft. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, are just three of the best examples. But its not just superstars who succeed. Tyson Chandler has had a lengthy career despite never becoming a superstar player. Al Jefferson, Monta Ellis, and numerous International players, such as Tony Parker, provide further examples.

3. The G-League is a Viable Developmental Alternative to College Basketball

The opinion that 18 year olds are not ready for the NBA becomes irrelevant when you consider the massive improvement that the G-League has made. The G-League offers a developmental league where players who need experience and improvement can get both while playing professionally at a step below the NBA and still maintaining contractual connections to an NBA team.

The proper comparison for the G-League is a simplified MLB farm system. Every NBA team now has a G-League affiliate and most are geographically nearby their parent NBA franchise. The result is players can grow, develop, and be compensated while they work toward accomplishing their dream of becoming an NBA player with the full support of an invested NBA franchise. There are also two-way contracts  available to NBA teams allowing a player to be called up and sent down depending on the team and player needs.

In the past a player with great potential, who wasn’t quite ready to contribute, would eat up a roster spot thereby watering down the quality of the league. This unfairly penalized veteran players who did not offer future potential but could still provide production right now. The G-League allows teams to develop young players at an appropriate pace without forcing teams to choose between productive veterans and potential young stars.

4. Education is Great but Unrelated to the NBA Draft

Basketball talent is a valuable, scarce resource and a professional basketball player is a tradesman. His best strategy to achieving success is to develop his basketball skills.

A college education is great for producing well-rounded communicators who are prepared to solve problems in an office, business, or creative setting. Indisputably a college education is advantageous for anyone including basketball players, however a basketball player by  no means NEEDS a college education.

Forcing ballplayers to attend college is akin to demanding plumbers, electricians, masons, carpenters, musicians, and artists to go to 4 year universities because it is subjectively considered better for them. Free people should be allowed to make their own determinations, pursue their own interests, and develop their own marketable skills. Basketball players are elite athletes who are best served by turning their full attention to the development of their craft. Allowing elite 18-year-old prospects to enter the NBA Draft provides prodigy level talent the opportunity to capitalize on their hard work and God-given gifts.

5. The College Game Will Return to Stability

Most NBA fans are at least casually interested in College Basketball. For the last 10+ years, College Basketball has been held hostage to the one-and-done dilemma. The best college programs are inclined to recruit the best talent even though those players are leaving after one season.

Pretending that these players are meaningfully engaged in the college experience is delusional. Many are merely going through the motions of a mandated detour on their way to accomplishing their goal. Meanwhile the continuity of schools able to offer 4 year scholarships is disrupted. This years one-and-dones replace the vacated scholarship slots of last years one-and-dones. College programs with the best players lack the continuity and year-over-year team-building that constitutes great teams.

Hilariously these pseudo-students are governed by a strict code of ineffective rules preventing them from professional representation and earning money in marketing deals. They counterintuitively have their practice time limited in an inane attempt to keep college athletics amateur and fair. Additionally it is well-known that college recruiting is a often a slimy environment colorized by increasingly darker shades of grey. The entire affair is so completely dishonest that it invalidates the ethical foundation, which sounds principled, but has become contradictory and impractical.

NBA Draft Age Conclusion and Money Talks

The main complaints against 18 year olds in the NBA has been that they are not ready, that NBA teams are forced to draft high-potential players who cannot contribute immediately, and that college is good for people.

The first reason is simply not true. The elite high school recruits are usually ready for the jump. Consider the three recruiting classes at the bottom of the page. The vast majority earned serious money as NBA stars or role-players over the course of a long career. Very few did not pan out. The consensus is that scouts are able to identify NBA worthy talent in 18 year olds with a high success rate.

The second complaint has been addressed by the G-League. Teams can now draft the player with the highest potential and stash him in the G-League until he’s ready. Unready 18 year olds entering the NBA Draft do not pose a threat to the quality of NBA play.

The final complaint is an opinion that is presumptuous and elitist. It is not anyones responsibility to judge or determine what is best for a free man in this country. Players do not need to be protected from themselves. There is risk in jumping to the NBA but the rewards should not be denied to someone who can evaluate his own situation and make the best decision for himself and his family. It is not the job of

the NCAA, fans, or media members to project their values onto a free individual with the talent and skill to offer a thriving professional sports industry.

Read below to see the top 10 recruiting classes of three separate years and the money earned by those players once they reached the NBA. Overwhelmingly these early-identified talents turned out to be valuable NBA players in the long run. Preventing athletes from the earning potential of their labor is unjust.    

Bonus:

We are Good at Predicting NBA Readiness

The draft rules changed to a 19 year old minimum in 2006. To demonstrate how effective scouts are at predicting NBA readiness of high school prospects I have listed the Rivals top 10 recruits from the years 2010, 2014, and 2015 (chosen at random) as well as their total earnings since joining the NBA. The scouts are remarkably reliable at identifying the top tier of players who should be considering the NBA Draft instead of College Basketball.

2010 Top High School Recruits as listed by Rivals.com

1. Josh Selby $855,366

2. Harrison Barnes $107,083,803

3. Enes Kanter $93,520,875

4. Kyrie Irving $116,537,374

5. Jared Sullinger $11,994,420

6. Brandon Knight $81,089,677

7. Tobias Harris $70,549,880

8.Cory Joseph $34,867,660

9. Perry Jones $5,285,886

10. Reggie Bullock $10,857,804

2014 Top High School Recruits as listed by Rivals.com

1. Jahlil Okafor $14,366,640

2. Emmanuel Mudiay $19,778,897

3. Stanley Johnson $18,161,703

4. Cliff Alexander $600,093

5. Karl-Anthony Towns $35,911,301

6. Kelly Oubre $13,714,215

7. Tyus Jones $10,110,400

8. Rashad Vaughn $5,599,378

9. Myles Turner $15,470,483

10. Kevon Looney $5,353,189

2015 Top High School Recruits as listed by Rivals.com

1. Skal Labissiere $9,870,131

2. Ben Simmons $37,168,559

3. Jaylen Brown $29,977,965

4. Brandon Ingram $33,305,143

5. Cheick Diallo $5,322,222

6. Diamond Stone $1,906,082

7. Ivan Rabb $5,969,912

8. Malik Newman Undrafted in 2018 draft. Currently signed to two-way G-League contract with Lakers

9. Jamal Murray $20,471,110

10 Isaiah Briscoe $5,999,003