When the NBA instituted it’s one-and-done rule a little more than a decade ago, the league did so with good intentions. It seemed to make sense at the time.
For every Kevin Garnett, there was a Johnathan Bender. For every Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, there was a Bill Willoughby or a Korleone Young. For every Tracy McGrady, there was a James Lang, or a Robert Swift, or an Ndudi Ebi.
The preps-to-pros who have made it are highlighted and celebrated. However, for every prodigy who did make good, there were a bunch more who fell by the wayside.
NBA commissioner David Stern sought to shut off that faucet. It was a rational move. The argument that players were coming into the league too young and underdeveloped was a sound one. Plus veterans didn’t like giving their jobs to 19-year-olds who barely were shaving and not old enough to drink.
Unwittingly, the one-and-done rule has turned college basketball into a laughingstock.
It pains me to write that last sentence because I love college hoops. I love the pageantry, I love the competition. But it isn’t the same, and the one-and-done rule is a big reason why.
It’s time for the rule to go away. It’s archaic in the pro game, and doing so will help eliminate at least some of the backdoor sleaze of the college game.
The NBA has made a lot of moves since, one of them being the advent and growth of the G-League. So even if a guy straight out of high school doesn’t make it in the NBA, he can go to the minor league, be a part of a system and a program and grow his game.
Eliminating the one-and-done rule also would weed out a lot of the fake students in college hoops. A lot of the marquee players that you’ll see in college basketball’s March Madness this month? They don’t really want to be there. They’d rather be making money and advancing the clock on their rookie deal toward the ultimate payday for NBA players: that second contract.
In this sense, Major League Baseball has it right. Under their guidelines, they give high school players a choice: They either can go straight to the pros or they go to college for three years, at which point they again become draft-eligible.
The NBA adopting this rule would help both levels. Many McDonald’s All-Americans would declare for the draft, so the college game initially would lack elite top-end talent.
But the flip side is this: College basketball coaches would have to coach again and develop talent. Let’s be honest: All the John Caliparis and Mike Krzyzewskis of the world are doing right now is recruiting the top 20 high school players, riding them into the NCAA Tournament then waving bye-bye after a season. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Without the one-and-done rule, college fans will be able to attach themselves to their players again for more than one fleeting season. For instance, when was the last time Kentucky had a senior night that featured a top player who made the NBA? Patrick Patterson? It hasn’t happened often in the past decade.
Without the one-and-done rule, coaches will have to develop guys. Upperclassmen at the top of the college game will exist at a greater level, and players will enter the NBA more prepared to contribute immediately.
Without the one-and-done rule? Those who try to enter the NBA straight out of high school but don’t make it won’t be thrown out into the cold. The G-League offers a viable alternative. The strides in international basketball, even in the past 10 years, have been substantial. So even if there are those who don’t make the NBA, they still can make a living.
Most importantly, it’s time to get players out of college basketball who have no intention of being students. As it is, a player can go to a school, make enough grades during the first semester to stay eligible and never go to a class during the second semester when his season is in full swing.
So let’s eliminate the one-and-done rule. It’s win-win for both the college and pro games.
NBA POWER RANKINGS
1. Golden State Warriors • Still the top team in the league, but the Rockets have sliced the gap to a slim margin.
Houston Rockets • The MVP award is James Harden’s to lose.
3. Toronto Raptors • Scoring 112 points per game, best in the Eastern Conference.
4. Boston Celtics • Intrigue over Gordon Hayward possibly coming back this season persists.
5. Washington Wizards • Have been playing quite well without John Wall. Can they keep it up with him?
6. Minnesota Timberwolves • Entering a tough part of the schedule, and doing so without Jimmy Butler.
7. Portland Trail Blazers • Have won five straight; Damian Lillard is enjoying a career season.
8. New Orleans Pelicans • If not for Harden, Anthony Davis would be at the top of the MVP conversation.
9. San Antonio Spurs • Simply trying to tread water until Kawhi Leonard comes back.
10. Philadelphia 76ers • Have made smart buyout market moves, surrounding Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with shooting.
11. Cleveland Cavaliers • Losses to Spurs, Wizards and Sixers since All-Star break for LeBron’s most vulnerable team in years.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder • They aren’t the same team defensively without Andre Roberson.
13. Denver Nuggets • Got Paul Millsap back, promptly lost a 19-point second-half lead to the Clippers.
14. Indiana Pacers • Trevor Booker acquisition gives them more toughness and athleticism.
15. Milwaukee Bucks • They have the most tenuous big man situation among the playoff contenders.
16. Miami Heat • It’s fun to see Dwyane Wade playing like vintage Wade again.
17. Los Angeles Clippers • Ran out of gas Wednesday against the Rockets.
18. Utah Jazz • The Jazz should be higher than 18th here, but it’s a deep league in the middle .
19. Los Angeles Lakers • Have won 16 since early January. Lonzo Ball makes a gigantic difference.
20. Charlotte Hornets • Can they make a sneaky run at the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference?
21. Detroit Pistons • Still in good position, but they need Reggie Jackson back and healthy.
22. New York Knicks • Emmanuel Mudiay has played well for them since trade from Denver.
23. Chicago Bulls • Have lost five straight and are playing for the lottery.
24. Brooklyn Nets • Pushed Cleveland to the limit before LeBron bailed out the Cavs.
25. Sacramento Kings • Rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said he’s “tired of the losing.”
26. Dallas Mavericks • J.J. Barea continues to have his best season at age 33.
27. Phoenix Suns • Led New Orleans by 17 in the first half then lost the lead and the game.
28. Memphis Grizzlies • It has been awhile. They last won a basketball game Jan. 29.
29. Atlanta Hawks • Dennis Schroder still playing hard, scoring seven of the Hawks’ final eight points to lead them past the Pacers on Wednesday.
30. Orlando Magic • It’s getting ugly in the land of the mouse. They’ve lost seven straight.