The debate is forever ongoing… should high school basketball players be allowed to enter the NBA draft right after graduation? One argument is that 17-18 year old kids aren’t ready for the stressful responsibilities that come with the notoriety and finances that the NBA provides. College offers young athletes the opportunity to grow as men and as players on the court. The other argument is that if a kid is good enough… this is the American Dream! Let him play! And the concern… what if he gets hurt in college and his professional career is done?
As the debate drags on, the current rules are set that no high school athlete shall enter the NBA draft until they are one year removed from graduation. While the Jabari Parker’s of the world (and half of the University of Kentucky roster) may wish the rule was not in place, this plan will more than likely stay around for a while. Reason being… the system is giving its fans and television viewers more excitement than they have ever had before!
The past few March Madness Tournaments have offered exhilarating neck and neck matchups of teams with young freshman superstars, ex: Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins, and veteran squads such as the Mercer Bulldogs, which started 5 senior starters in their upset of Duke. Upsets and parody are becoming something of the norm for March Madness. This gives more fans, more reasons to cheer! Duke, UNC, Ohio State, Michigan State, and the traditional powerhouses will always be relevant as they consistently get the best recruits coming in. More times than not, these young superstars decide to go PRO after one year but in those twelve months, they are able to hone in on their basketball skills and mentally prepare themselves for what lies ahead at the next level. This also levels the playing field with “mid-major” schools, as high profile coaches must find a way to “mesh” each incoming group of superstars year after year. Smaller universities keep their student athletes for a longer period of time, which enables these teams to learn how to play as a unit and gives these players longer time to develop their game.
Now onto the pro’s…This year’s NBA post season could arguably be the most entertaining playoffs that we’ve ever had. It seemed like every matchup in the first round went to a game 7. The talent and athleticism of the superstars in the NBA is mesmerizing. Much of this can be contributed to the fact that many of the players now coming into the league had to follow the “one and done” rule. I think the most prevalent evidence can be shown by watching not the distance 3 pointers of Stephon Curry or the posterizing dunks by Paul George, but by watching these superstars and the like, playing actual DEFENSE.
Yes… players are starting to play hard defense in the NBA! Defense is the great equalizer and gives all teams an opportunity to be in every game. This is only learned at the college level, as high school is primarily a showcase of offensive skills displayed in AAU tournaments. Take a look at the Chicago Bulls, which had zero offensive production for most of the year. They willingly took charges, got down in a perfect defensive stance, and blocked shots, which got them a 4 seed in the eastern conference. Kevin Durant has always been a superstar but over the summer his ONLY focus was getting better on the defensive side of the ball. His numbers have never been better and earned him the MVP title for the first time in his great career. As the debate lingers whether to allow players the opportunity to join the NBA right out of high school or not, enjoy what we have in place right now. With the issues surrounding football concussions and baseball struggling to keep the attention of young fans, basketball has a formula that could give the sport a big boost in popularity for years to come.