The “One and Done” rule, as it’s known to most people, requires all athletes to be at least 19-years-old and be one year removed from high school graduation to be eligible for the NBA draft.
It was passed in 2005 by then-League Commissioner David Stern to stop a growing trend of players getting drafted directly out of high school.
The trend was causing problems for NBA teams (who were gambling on untested teenagers), players (who never got the chance to establish fundamental basketball skills at the college level) and colleges (who missed out on exciting players entirely).
But the rule hasn’t really solved anything, and it’s time to change it for the benefit of everyone involved. The league should require that a player is two years removed from high school graduation to be eligible for the draft.
Let’s start with the players, who people assume make more money the sooner they enter the league.
While there is no way of knowing what a player’s career trajectory would have been if he had spent an extra year or two in college, the general consensus around the league is that the more college experience a player has, the more polished his skill-set seems to be.
A lot is working against young players trying to improve their game in the NBA.
For one, there simply isn’t enough practice time. With games essentially every other day and a lot of traveling, there’s not a lot of time to work extensively on basic skills.
Head coaches often call off practices because they don’t want their team tired for the next game, especially in the second half of the season.
This means an athlete who may only have a short season of college basketball under his belt basically has to adjust to NBA competition on the fly.
And that’s where a lot of these young athletes get caught up. Moves that they usually dominate their peers with don’t work at all against grown men, and they develop bad habits in an unguided attempt to compensate. They may also lose confidence in certain moves that they should be building into the foundation of their offensive games.
These kinds of things can stunt a player’s growth and cut him well short of his NBA potential.
If players take their time to learn basic things like footwork and body positioning in college, then they can apply that and build off of it in the super-athletic NBA.
The “One and Done” rule has turned colleges into one-semester drop zones for teenagers looking to use athletic programs as launching pads into the riches of the NBA. What is the motivation to develop a bond with, or even attend the classes of a school you know you won’t be enrolled in for more than one season?
Forcing athletes to stay in college an extra year gives them more of an opportunity to recognize the value of their education. It also makes it more likely that bonds will form with mentors, relationships will form with teams and rivalries will be established. That’s what college basketball is all about.
The rule will also put a stop to the countless busts that have arisen from one-year players being drafted too high. The league’s new collective bargaining agreement made stricter punishments for going over the salary cap, which in turn made draft picks infinitely more valuable.
These draft busts have crippled franchises for years and made teams a punch line to fan bases.
This way, a general manager has two years worth of college experience to evaluate a player before drafting him, ensuring the best players get drafted and the busts get weeded out.
The “One and Done” rule has cheapened college basketball, betrayed the NBA and robbed countless young athletes of the chance to reach their full potential. It’s time the league acknowledges its mistake and corrects it.
Zach Winn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org