Posted February 14, 2014

NBA commissioner Adam Silver to push for higher age limit

Adam Silver, NBA age limit, Rob Mahoney
Adjusting the NBA's age limit is one of Adam Silver's first priorities as commissioner. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

Adjusting the NBA’s age limit is one of Adam Silver’s first priorities as commissioner. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

While no conclusive discussion on the subject can take place until the National Basketball Players Association selects a new executive director, it’s already been made quite clear that an adjustment of the NBA’s age limit is one of Adam Silver’s first priorities as league commissioner.

As it stands, the NBA requires players be at least 19 years of age (or one year removed from the graduation of their high school class) before entering the draft — a limitation that essentially created the “one-and-done” trend in college basketball.

Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Andre Drummond are just a few of the players who would have had legitimate NBA prospects were it not for the existing age limit, but instead played one year of college. Under Silver’s proposed change, such players would be forced to wait another year before becoming NBA-eligible. He offered this in justification to Sam Amick of USA Today:

It has been our belief that we have a better chance to grow the (financial) pie that gets divided 50-50 if we increase the age and create, in essence, a more competitive league. And it has been our sense for a long time that our draft would be more competitive if our teams had an opportunity to see these players play an additional year, whether it be in college or professionally in the Development League or overseas.

We believe the additional year of maturity would be meaningful. And increasingly, I’ve been told by many NBA coaches that one of the issues with the younger guys coming into the league is they’ve never had an opportunity to lead. By having come directly out of their first year of college, those are the moments in their lives where…they were put in positions as upper classmen, where they first learned how to lead teammates.

By extension, requiring players to wait another year before entering the draft gives general managers more film and a deeper pool of competitive games from which to draw conclusions. One issue with this proposal? The data over the past few years doesn’t really support the idea that a year’s worth of scouting dramatically improves drafting performance.

In assessing how NBA GMs performed both immediately before and after the institution of the current age limit, Tom Ziller of SB Nation found that teams were roughly as likely to select a “disappointment” or an outright bust regardless of the limit. There will always be basketball decision makers who overreach, misjudge or prioritize the wrong scouting criteria. To date, we don’t really have much evidence to suggest the age limit helps GMs make better decisions.

It’s also difficult to understand how more process restrictions would in any way make the NBA draft more “competitive,” as Silver claims. However, the age limit increase would certainly make NCAA basketball more competitive by keeping talented players in the system for an additional year. That’s where the logic of the age limit gets especially fuzzy. College basketball, after all, isn’t just a funnel of prospects to the NBA but an active competitor in the same entertainment market. Both the NBA and and the NCAA are vying for customers and viewers during the same months of the year while marketing the same game, and thus any effort that bolsters the NCAA would seem to undercut the NBA on some level. Silver clearly doesn’t seem too worried by that prospect, though at the very least it’s a factor worth considering.

Silver also notes elsewhere in his interview with Amick that he has “never quite understood” opposition to a higher age limit from the NBPA, though the reason for their resistance seems obvious. By hypothetically forcing players to enter the NBA a year later, the league would delay the signing of a players’ second and third contracts — their first opportunities to really cash in. Their big paydays are then not only delayed, but mitigated by the fact that players will have one less season with which to maximize their career earnings. Raising the age limit to 20, then, both slightly compromises a player’s potential to earn longterm and postpones his first crack at free agency — two shifts the NBPA would oppose for obvious reasons. Add in the fact that the additional year in question only provides added opportunity for a player to suffer serious injury before securing a larger contract and there’s little reason for a players’ union to be in favor of such a policy.

That said, there’s always a possibility the NBPA consents to a higher age limit as a negotiating tradeoff, especially since no current NBA player would really be affected. Silver has made a point of mentioning his desire for movement on this particular point, and for that reason alone it will be on the docket for the foreseeable future. Yet when it’s not serving NBA general managers, future NBA players, or the league at large (to say nothing of the complexities of depriving very employable and sometimes underprivileged workers an ability to earn), what would really be the point?

66 comments
EnriqueB
EnriqueB

Whats best for both college basketball and NBA is to have NCAA let players make self earned money for their autographed game used gear and allow shoe brand endorsements also get paid for their appearance in commercials/mag covers if they want. Make some decent money while going to school and at the same time keep improving their game, likely encourage them to stay in college another year or two. While the NBA eliminates the guarantee 2 year 850K-4.5M contract for first round picks to only players less than 2 years of college experience. That way money is less of an influence to leave early, and if declared early only players knowing they are ready for NBA will. So less busts in the NBA and elite players have more incentives to stay longer in college.

TerryDelhomme
TerryDelhomme

Yeah! I really do think that all NBA players should have to wait until 20 years out of high school, but unless the owners and the NBA commissioner does it themselves because i know for a fact that those fools for players will not go for it. so the only solutions change it to every players has to be on an act active college roaster for atleast 110 games minimum. that on the best players comes out once they are really plus the scouts will have alot of film as well.    

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

The NBA product has gotten steadily worse over the last 15 years with all these 18-19 year old kids flooding NBA rosters.  They are likely to be out of the league w/in 3 years and the teams continue to restock their rosters w/ this trash.  2 year removal of High School rule will make the NCAA and NBDL more competitive which will only help the talent level in the NBA when those players arrive.

6marK6
6marK6

Silver and Stern were both gym rats from way back, they no the ends and outs on hoops. Just look at them, oy vei!!

rkcla08
rkcla08

of course he wants a higher age limit.  it gives the nba more time to milk their minor league ncaa system.

northtowntv
northtowntv

Agreed, NBA is watered down with players.  Make a 2 year rule similar to NFL.  For those of you who think they have a right to work, the NBA is an employer, they have the right to make any restrictions they seem necessary, just like any other company.

The_truth_hurts
The_truth_hurts

Silver looks like the poster boy for 40 year old virgins around the world.

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

It's not clear to my why the NBA wants any age limit, given that it doesn't help teams to make better draft decisions, that players develop better in the NBA or D league than they do in college, that the salary cap remains the same either way, and that the NBA will get more years and money promoting transcendent players like Lebron James if they can come into the league directly from high school.


I'm sure Adam Silver isn't a dumb guy, but the only obvious benefit of keeping guys in college longer is to ensure that they are more of a "sure thing" when they come into the league, which this policy doesn't seem to ensure.

R_Schlogs
R_Schlogs

Let NBA teams draft a kid out of high school but the same thing goes that, they have to wait 2 years after high school to play in the NBA. This could make for some exciting basketball trying to show teams theyre worth it and can play and would also spice up the DLeague. If they want to go to college then they go to college and get an education. If theyre only going for the money then they can get paid league min to play in the DLeague for 2 years then can be "called up" to the pros like baseball does. 

JBub
JBub

A higher minimum age? Nah! What the NBA really needs is a higher minimum WAGE.

roadkingajb
roadkingajb

Why can't they be drafted at 18 and the team has a 2-3 year window to sign them to a contract if they are not ready they go back to college. They go to training camp each fall and have a cut window that if they again are not yet ready back to school. I am not sure but I think that is how it works in the NHL.

R C1
R C1

What an idiot.  There should be no age limit to work.  I'm pretty sure LeBron, Kobe, Garnett, O'Neil, McGrady, Chandler, Howard  and others would agree, there is nothing wrong with going straight to the NBA. 

JackHoff
JackHoff

Should have to have a 4 year degree to be able to play in the NBA, just like any other half way decent "job". 


Would class up the NBA (which is in desperate need) and also make the college game more interesting.

effeweall
effeweall

College is the NBA's farm system.  If these kids can't cut a 4 year program at 35 games a year?  How are they gonna be expected to jump to the NBA.  A rare player can come along like LeBron that looked like he stayed back 10 years and was 29 when he joining the NBA.  But he is the rare exception.


How any kid who plays sports in college can complain about the time he puts in.  Most people have to dedicate 40-50 hours a week in their careers minimum.


It's the same as actually being a student at college.  If you get pulled out of college after freshman year, how long would the adjustment process be to become a "professional" in the actual workforce?


This age limit is unfair.  If they actually had the interest of the players at heart.  the NBA would make 1 rule:


Out of the High School to the NBA (let the NBA develope thier talent)


or


4 year college manditory.


No one wants to admit that pro sports org's dont care about their players actual well being.  Its juts like entertainment business in hollywood.  Consumers get sick of the same people so the high turnover rate benefits the owners.  They are allowing all these limp ducks entry to let their stars who are jacked on PED's have longer careers.  Look at all the strongholds in hollywood eating TRT daily to stay young.  Same as all the scrubs in sports prolonging thier careers with PEDS.

=======================

stay in school 4 years, if you are that good the money will come eventually.    All these kids that come out are looking for the quick lotto ticket cause they no they wont last long.


And the colleges are just as much to blame allowing them to be semi pro atheletes.



negotiatorcmcr
negotiatorcmcr

I like raising the age limit for the benefit of the league. Sure, there are many players who have gone one-and-done or previously, skipped college, who excelled. But many guys also washed out or are just role players. Yet, I don't see how this respects those who want to enter the job market upon graduating high school and whom the NBA would draft if given the opportunity. Plus, I don't see the union being happy with this and going along with it.

lionoah
lionoah

Make restricted/unrestricted free agency happen a year earlier. With all that data (and risk on the part of the players) from a year spent in college, that seems like the ideal tradeoff

2001mark
2001mark

What would be great is if NBA teams could draft college players, but allow them to remain playing in college on the NBA dime.


Not sure how that could work but the integrity of the NBA is at stake.  


Racist?  Please.  The NHL doesn't want 19yr olds skating around learning the pro game, why should the NBA want teenagers on a similar learning curve yes?  


Maybe it's all about getting better return on investment, not having to pay a high young draft pick a ton of money only to see him walk to a large market first chance he gets.  Thus the NBA's bad teams inevitably become minor league teams, within the exact pro league they're competing in?  

UVAJimmy
UVAJimmy

Everyone points to the European system and says that the Europeans allow players to become professionals at essentially 16 which is true; however, these young players rarely make it into the big leagues they are often stuck in reserve matches, in lower or less competitive leagues or at lesser teams if they do make it and so 'the payday' they receive doesn't really exist except for the very elite and given the fact greater numbers of people play football then it means that there are even fewer basketball players that fit the very elite mold.  Name them?  Lebron...... yes, Kevin Garnett, Kobe, Shaq, etc.  However, none of these players were elite rookies not even Lebron, yes he scored alot for a bad team that means nothing, they would have been better served in a developmental league or college.  If they don't want to go to college, join the developmental league and prove you deserve to be there, hone your craft.  Look at Timmy D.  Development is key.  Getting paid a ton of money because you look the part and can score some points and dunk the ball.  Look at the Spurs.  Good teams need professional players not rooks.


Also, no one ever talks about the large number of football 'players' who don't make much money, don't get educated and then have nothing to fall back on when they don't make it.  That's because everyone fawns over the super stars.


Paying players big bucks to learn their jobs?  Wow.  I wish all of life was like that.


I say raise the limit to 3 years just like baseball.  Go the minors and work your way up or go to college and commit yourself for three years.  In fact, the NFL should do the same.  That way all these 'superstars' will end in blue collar jobs after they prove they never belonged or they go to college get an education and then see if they can make it.  If they don't, they should be better prepared for life.


Baseball's solution to this issue makes it a non-issue and leads to no lawsuits.

dennis921
dennis921

Adam Silver is a goofy looking dude.

The5wineFlu
The5wineFlu

Make it like MLB, either go pro out of high school or you have to play 3 years on college.  

cry1baby2usa
cry1baby2usa

Hmm so a person can go to college and drop out and get a job at any time. This is OK but a person playing basketball has to stay in school for a certain amount of time before going pro. Yea makes a lot of sense. 

chris92021
chris92021

Either allow those kids to go directly from high school to the league or make them stay 2 years in college. This one and done thing is just absurd and the quality of the NBA game suffers (college game too but not as much). 

bpc
bpc

Did you notice its the sports that have the most black athletes that have age limits. Hockey prospects  leave home very young to play in the minors. No one ever complains. Baseball, golf, tennis, soccer same thing. But when your sport is predominately black suddenly they are too young.  Its actually pretty racist. 

clu
clu

@roadkingajb Because that would require NCAA rule changes on behalf of the NBA, while trying to claim they are there for the education and not business, and shouldn't be paying their players...

youdigg
youdigg

@R C1 Boeing requires you to have a four year degree before you can even think of applying.  Is what they are doing wrong?


The NBA is a company that wants a specific set of qualifications from their applicants.  They are in every right to set their own standards for who they want to work for them.

jshiver15
jshiver15

@UVAJimmy Also, Shaq averaged nearly 25 points and close to 14 boards his rookie season.  If that isn't elite, then I'd really like to hear your standard for elite.

jshiver15
jshiver15

@UVAJimmy Shaq went to college.  And LeBron came into the league with more talent and a bigger impact than most players who had college experience.  So, while I see the point you're trying to make, that's a pretty poor example.

JasonLeBel
JasonLeBel

@UVAJimmy  "Europeans allow players to become professionals at essentially 16 which is true". 

And those 16 year olds are playing against other 16 year olds, in a system that's not as demanding as the NBA, and pays A LOT less.

goomonster1234
goomonster1234

@The5wineFlu I completely agree with you. That would be BY FAR the best thing for the NBA. However, we would have to take one thing into consideration. What happens to a high school kid who thinks he's good enough to play in the NBA, but doesn't get drafted? Unless there's a new rule proposed by the NCAA (which won't happen), these kids will have to play overseas or in the NBDL for another year and re-enter. I do like the overall idea and I think it is something that the NBA should adopt, but you do have to take that into account.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@cry1baby2usa None of these kids have to go to college.  They are free to play pro ball in any league that will have them.

serveaux
serveaux

@cry1baby2usa  No., that's not an accurate comparison. That person can still drop out of college and get a job any time they want, but just like with a lot of other jobs, they won't be able to get this particular job without a set level of education.  

John4
John4

@cry1baby2usa  Playing in the NBA is NOT "a job" so your statement has no value.

B-f-G
B-f-G

@chris92021 The college game has suffered tremendously!  Between the one-and-dones and AAU coaches teaching "NBA" skills rather than fundamentals, college basketball is the product that has suffered the most.


Players are coming out of college less developed than ever.  The NBA is a business and doesn't have time to develop them.

negotiatorcmcr
negotiatorcmcr

@bpc It's not racist at all. The NBA cares about two things only - image and profits.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@bpc  You're right in terms of perception, however, in the case of football and basketball, big time college sports has a) made it a quasi-minor league and b) gives the guys so much publicity teams feel obligated to put them out immediately.  

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

@bpc Very racist.  Some Hawaain golfer can earn millions as a 14 yr old but not the black b-ball player.


ITATTRACTS
ITATTRACTS

@bpc  the difference is that NHL/baseball/soccer have extensive junior/minor leagues that most of the very young kids get stuck in until they are mentally and physically ready to perform. 

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@youdigg @R C1  The problem is the data doesn't seem to show any correlation between players going to college and being more professional more highly skilled at a particular age or stage in their career.


If you have talent, work ethic, and good coaching, you'll develop better by being on an NBA roster than by being on a college roster, and you'll learn to be a pro sooner and have a longer prime (which is good for you, your team, and the league).


The age rule makes sense IF it prevents teams from making so many bust draft picks, but it's meaningless if teams can't properly identify character and talent.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@John4 Uh, exchanging labor for money.  That is a job.

JasonLeBel
JasonLeBel

@John4 @cry1baby2usa  They get paid for doing something that makes their employer money, and they have to pay taxes. Sounds like a job to me.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@MrArlington @cry1baby2usa  It's 3 yrs actually.  Their high school graduating class needs to be three yrs out of high school before a player may turn pro.


I don't care either way in the NFL or in the NBA.  But the players, via the CBA should fight to become unrestricted free agents sooner in order to get to the big payday sooner as Father Time marches on and they are being held out of the league until a certain age....


Maybe the players fight with their union to not allow the rise in age unless they may become free agents sooner.


I mean management and the union must negotiate things and if the league and management wants to raise the age limit, what are they willing to give up in order to achieve that?

cry1baby2usa
cry1baby2usa

@B-f-G @chris92021  Every player that comes out of college even after 4 years needs development. Sorry but the goal of college is not to develop one for the NBA. It is to win games and make the college money. 

jshiver15
jshiver15

@GregAtkin @bpc That's a pretty poor comparison.  Especially considering golf isn't dictated by contracts and a player can still pull away from competition to focus on development or even go to college (more specifically Stanford since we're discussing Michelle Wie).


childleftbehind71
childleftbehind71

@GregAtkin @bpc  It's the greedy Jews. The worst part of all is many of these black kids are not smart enough for college but they find one that will accept them then they use the colleges as a farm system. The Jewish masterminds want their training to be paid for by someone else and they are corrupting higher education to make it happen.

childleftbehind71
childleftbehind71

@nyjets011269 @childleftbehind71  You look like the blue collar dude that works on my car, cuts my grass, and drinks beer while watching NASCAR.  Please stay in New York where you have been conditioned to talk a certain way or else lose your life.  A Jew groomed a Jew who will groom a Jew to continue to head the NBA.