Speaking with the media during NBA Summer League this past week, Commissioner Adam Silver made comments that suggest the end of the “one and down rule” as fans know it is near. “My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change,” he explained.
“When I’ve weighed the pros and cons, given that Condoleezza Rice and her commission has recommended to the NBA that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league, and in essence the college community is saying we do not want those players anymore, that sort of tips the scale in my mind that we should be taking a serious look at lowering our age to 18.”
Although the majority of elite McDonald’s All-Americans will decide to enter the NBA Draft under the premise that they’ll make an impact in The Association, that might be wishful thinking. Since Kevin Garnett entered the NBA in 1995 to the start of the one-and-done rule in 2006, only 24% of high school prospects maintained a win share of 1.0 or better in their rookie season.
Unless they are at the level of young Dwight Howard or LeBron James, prospects will spend most, if not all of their rookie year, assigned to their NBA team’s G League affiliate.
Prospects can use the G League to learn how to play within the rules and style of play of the NBA without requiring major minutes on the big league level right away . Over the course of the season, that prospect will become accustomed to playing within the 24-second shot clock and learn how to shoot from beyond the NBA 3-point line.
The NBA features a fast-paced, perimeter-oriented style of play that will force youngsters to adjust. In addition, they’ll have to deal with the increased physicality that comes from competing against grown men. G League staffs have their own athletic trainer(s) and strength & conditioning coach. Those staff members will allow these teenagers to become faster and stronger athletes while helping them go through an arduous G League season
The G League allows young players to compete in a league filled with a wide array of experienced players that range from NBA veterans, international mainstays and former NCAA superstars. This is beneficial for their development, as facing tough competition will help them adjust quicker.
From an off-court perspective, that challenge persists as these young prospects will have to become familiar with the day-by-day grind of being a pro athlete. Rather than spending most of one’s time at a singular college campus, they’ll have to travel the country via late-night or early morning flights and living in mediocre hotels. In addition to that, they’ll have to deal with playing in half-empty arenas in Sioux Falls, South Dakota rather than Cameron Indoor Stadium or Rupp Arena
Freedom is also provided. However, those players won’t be alone as they’ll be traveling with veterans that know the day-by-day grind of being a pro athlete. Having those veterans around them as mentors should be a good learning experience for these teenagers as they can learn about the complex challenges that they will face when they make it to the NBA.
Conditions in the G League may not be perfect, but the opportunity to grow and take one’s time doing so is a valuable asset that can be used, as NBA teams look to nurture up and coming talented teenagers.
Unfortunately, it may be a few years until a swarm of former McDonald’s All-Americans make it to the G League, as the one-and-done rule might be around until 2022. Although that might delay the optimistic ideals that this entire piece has put in front of you, it is important to remain hopeful about the immediate future of the G League.
For one, G League president Malcolm Turner said in a recent Reddit AMA that he expects each NBA team to have their own minor league affiliate in the next 12-18 months. That singular move would be huge as it would actually make the G League into an actual minor league system. In addition to that, the recent introduction of two-ways and increased salaries are additional signs the league is moving in the right direction.
With that progression continuing for the next few years, the league will be in a great position whenever the one-and-done rule finally gets eliminated and we start seeing an array of McDonald’s All-Americans play on G League teams. Because at that point, the NBA clubs will be more educated on the best way to utilize the G League while the players will challenge themselves against great veteran talent. And when that occurs, all of this optimism will start to turn into a reality.