NBA should rethink rule that leads to one-and-dones
Posted April 17
Updated April 25
North Carolina wants to put its uniform on high school basketball star Kevin Knox of Tampa.
So do Duke and Kentucky and just about every other college program in the country. And of late, so does a professional team in China.
Knox’ father – Kevin Knox, Sr. – told The Tampa Bay Times over the weekend that his son declined a $1.4 million offer to spend his assumed one-and-done season playing for a team in the Asian leagues.
Knox said his son said thanks but no thanks and still plans to pick a college during the final weekend in April.
A 6-foot-8 wing forward, Knox is generally ranked among the top 10 high school seniors in the nation and likely would have been picked in the first round of the June NBA draft this season.
But like a lot of other millionaires in waiting, Knox is snagged in the NBA’s rule that draftees must be at least 19 years old and at least one year removed from high school. The rule was a bad idea when it came about 11 years ago, and it’s still a bad idea.
The policy of allowing players to go straight from high school to the NBA ended when then-commissioner David Stern convinced the players union to incorporate it into a collective bargaining agreement.
While the policy makes it possible for talented players to get in a full season of quality college coaching and competition, the NBA’s motive was for more self-serving. The NBA owners get free, often priceless exposure for their prospects in large part through the NCAA Tournament.
The vast majority of high school players and even college freshmen aren’t good enough to play regularly in the NBA. LeBron James, the first pick in the 2003 draft, is the exception to the rule. Three other high schoolers were picked in the first round of that 2003 draft, and only James was a quick hit.
Andrew Bynum, picked 10th overall out of St. Joseph (NJ) High in the 2006 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, averaged 1.6 points as a rookie and only 7.8 as a second-year pro.
Since 2006, almost all of the top-ranked high school players have spent at least one season in college. There have been a few exceptions. Guard Brandon Jennings was one. A California native who played for Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, the point-guard signed out of high school with an Italian team in 2008 and was selected 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2009. He’s now John Wall’s backup with the Washington Wizards.
Jennings’ one-year contract in Europe was reportedly worth $1.65 million. It’s surprising more high school players don’t go the Jennings route. The NBA money would still be there and those players uninterested in attending college would get immediate income, plus expenses.
A side benefit possibly would be the rethinking of a bad rule by current NBA chief Adam Silver, the owners and the players union. After all, there could be a few superstars who relocate and prefer to stay there. Can you imagine what might have happened if James had been trapped out of high school, signed with an overseas team and stayed there?