THE NBA The age limit debate has raged since high school players were banned from entering the league straight out of high school.
Gone are the days when athletes like Kevin Garnett, Kobe BryantAnd LeBron James could gracefully leap from prom to draft podium. While conventional wisdom on the subject holds that basketball’s most talented youngsters should be able to pursue their lifelong dreams by age 19 or 20, after at least a year of college, none of these solutions are best for player well-being. athletes or the game.
The best way to help develop the game’s young stars is to nurture them into the National Basketball Development League.
Yes, I know, high school stars are already allowed to enter the NBDL draft straight out of high school, but that hasn’t become a path for young prospects to follow toward NBA glory.
Currently, the National Basketball Development League has 16 teams. Nine teams are affiliated with an NBA franchise, while the other seven are affiliated with three different professional organizations.
Since its inception in 2001, the league has expanded from its initial eight teams and grown both geographically and in popularity. Even though the NBA’s version of the farm system isn’t as successful as Major League Baseball’s, it’s gradually moving in the right direction.
By the end of the 2010-2011 season, 23% of NBA players had played in the NBA D-League. For a talented high school prospect who is not allowed to enter the NBA draft, the NBDL is a perfect career path, and for several reasons.
First, instead of being instantly catapulted to celebrity status as he travels the country surrounded by the glitz and glamor of the NBA lifestyle, the D-League will serve as motivation. Player compensation is very minimal and will ensure that serious “professionals” will work the hardest on their game in order to be drafted in the following year’s NBA draft.
Many high school stars never made it because they couldn’t handle the lifestyle of fame and money that comes with a first professional contract. By keeping them in the developmental league, they will continue to work hard at their craft, fueled by getting to the NBA and making a lot more money.
They will also be surrounded by more focused and mature players, all determined to achieve their professional basketball dreams.
Another reason the NBDL route makes sense is that it helps prepare young prospects with their 50+ game season. By going to college, they won’t play as many games necessary to prepare them for the rigors of an NBA travel schedule.
Most importantly, the coaches of each team in the National Basketball Development League are trained to help their players reach their ultimate destination, while playing a team game.
Instead of going to college for a year and doing a disservice to their school and its program by using it as a stop on the way to the league, they can be trained by professional coaches and players who have been around the NBA at some point. one time or another, and knowing what it takes to get there.
Of course, college is the proven path for top recruits looking to get to the NBA as quickly as possible. But it’s not the best option for everyone involved. The college game and its programs do not benefit from constantly having to endure the losses of “one-time” prospects.
Likewise, the athletes involved shouldn’t have to wait a year on a college campus before they can cash in their millions.
An NBDL route makes the most sense. Young athletes train on the court for a long, NBA-like season while remaining motivated to achieve their dreams by sacrificing their blood, sweat and tears to make their dreams a reality.
High school athletes in today’s game are incredibly blessed, it’s no wonder we encounter so many draft “busts.” The best and brightest stars should have to sacrifice themselves to achieve what they want.
Giving millions of dollars to kids before they play against grown men is not the solution to the problem, whether they are 18, 19 or 20 years old.
Maybe the kids will struggle at first in the tough NBDL, but that will make the hard work even sweeter when they persevere and reach their destiny as an NBA draft selection.
As the old saying goes: “The only place success precedes work is in the dictionary.”