The Impossible Path of Reaching the NBA

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Right now, the process of becoming an NBA player is extremely tough and extensive. Young players have to go through a lot of stages in order to have a chance of getting into the NBA, and there are certain rules and requirements that prolong the process and make it harder. Several rules, such as the one-and-done rule and the high school academic requirements delay the players breakthrough to the NBA and their growth. These rules slow down their growth and development.  The years before the NBA can be tough for players as they often have financial struggles. Also, the NBA academic requirements affect players as they cannot put all of their focus completely on basketball. These rules should be removed or changed in order to make the path to the NBA easier and give a true chance to young talented athletes.

The One and Done Rule

One rule that really slows down players growth is the one and done rule. The one and done rule is a rule that was established in 2005 by NBA commissioner David Stern. This rule prohibits players under 19 years old or high school graduates to become eligible to the NBA draft. Some notable players from high school

Kevin Durant is against the one and done rule Phelan M.Ebenhack/AP

were Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady (Fernandez, 2016). This rule states that players have to go through at least one year of college before entering the NBA. There are some pros and cons to this rule. The good part about this rule is that these young athletes can have more time to develop in one year of college; however, there is also a downside to this which are injuries.If a young player gets injured in college and never plays the same way again he never had a chance to show his talent in the NBA due to him being forced to go one year through college. Also, this year of college is often hard for players as they get little to no pay for playing for their college teams and have little time to do part-time jobs in order to stay economically stable.

Studying and Practicing: Tough Balance

They also have to balance their study time along with their training time which is hard for student athletes. Another pro is that college athletes can graduate with a higher gpa as they go through one extra year of education. Basketball players have gone through this process of going an extra year in college and many are against the rule. Kevin Durant, a Golden State Warriors player spoke against this rule. “You should let this kids make a decision, however they want to. If they want to come out of high school, it should be on them. You know what I mean? You can’t control everything. So if they feel as though they’re ready, that’s on them. They want to make a decision on their life, that’s on them. If they don’t get drafted, it’s on them.” he said. A solution to the one and done rule is removing it entirely or making specific requirements in order to not go through one year of college. If the NBA does not want to  remove the one and done rule then it should be able to allow dominant high school players that look ready for the NBA to become eligible to the draft. Also they could make a rule that says that they have to score a certain GPA requirement in order to force athletes to take school seriously as well as basketball. The removal of this rule would lead to more young athletes going to the NBA, that maybe struggled during the obligatory year in college.

Study, Play and No Pay

Another struggle that college players often go through is their lack of pay during their one obligatory year in college. In this year, players play in the NCAA, the college basketball league, but there are no rules established regarding pay. This gives some colleges the power to pay no money to their players and they often abuse of this power, paying their players little to no money. Although some colleges pay their players stipends, not all of them do and it is not mandatory for colleges to do so (Phillips, 2015). Also, players don’t have much free time to work on other part time jobs due to school, college basketball games and practices which consume most of their time. Because of this they often struggle financially and they can’t buy everyday things such as groceries and pay their household fees. This financial struggle often leads to them falling back in their growth as future NBA players. Another thing that is unfair and ironic is that NCAA coaches get paid millions per year whilst players are barely paid. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the highest paid NCAA coach and he receives 8.89 million per year (USA Today, 2018). Out of the 76 known annual salaries of NCAA coaches, 66 of them get paid more than a million dollars per year (USA Today, 2018). This shows the unfair lack of balance in between players and coaches salaries. Coaches have all their time to dedicate to their job and get paid, whilst players have less time due to school, are doing the hard work on the court, have little to no time to do other jobs, and aren’t getting paid. This seems very unreasonable and is often a factor in college players not making it to the NBA.

Ben Simmons is against the money NCAA players receive. Kathy Willens/AP

“Everybody’s Making Money Except the Players”

Ben Simmons, a Philadelphia 76ers star talked about his thoughts about the players not making money in the NCAA in an interview with Business Insider. “The NCAA is really [messed] up. Everybody’s making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education,” Ben Simmons said. Also, Golden State Warriors player Kevin Durant, was also asked by Business Insider if he would have went straight to the NBA after high school. Durant answered “Yeah probably; I needed the money.” These quotes show that these financial struggles that exist due to the lack of pay are true and that it affects many athletes. In order to fix this, the  NCAA should establish rules regarding pay in order to help NCAA athletes financially. If this were to be done, it would benefit many young athletes as their road to the NBA will be easier, and their future in the NBA will be decided not by the amount of money that they have, rather the skill, work ethic and talent that they possess.

One Solution: The JBA

Although elite high school players cannot go directly to the NBA, the rule does not state that they must go to college, but that after one year subsequent to their high school graduation they can apply for the draft. That being said, some alternatives to making the path towards the NBA easier are being developed in order to help young stars get to the NBA. Solutions regarding the rules and policies are currently being developed, and some of those rules have begun to make an impact as of today. One alternative which has been created by the father of a fellow NBA player himself, Lavar Ball , has risen to be one of the viable solutions in the list. Lonzo Ball, a recognizable player for the Los Angeles Lakers has been a victim of the one-and-done rule, and through this experience his family has helped in creating a whole new league just to avoid the mandatory year of college which the rule suggests. His father, Lavar Ball, developed a new league known as the JBA in order to help rising stars to avoid having to go through college for a whole year before getting into the NBA Draft. The JBA is also known as the Junior Basketball Association, and it is mainly for elite high school players who don’t want to go to college. Essentially, it works as an alternative route that doesn’t have to do with attending college for a whole year. JBA salaries range from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the player’s recruiting ranking, which would ensure a better career for new players since the college basketball leagues do not offer salaries (Martin, 2018). Not only would the player be getting paid, but they would skip the mandatory year of college which the one-and-done rule forces top prospects to do.

The G-League

Another solution that started being provided as recent as of October 24, 2018, is the NBA G-League. The NBA G-League is the NBA development league for players who have the potential and determination to play in the NBA but still need to develop their skills. They get paid a small salary compared to actual NBA players but they have the privilege of being scouted all year long by NBA teams and many of them end up getting signed by them. Some notable players who have come out of the G-League are Hassan Whiteside, J.J. Barea, Danny Green, and Patty Mills. What the G-League is offering to elite high school players who do not want a college path is a “select contract” worth $125k (ESPN, 2018). Kyle Boone, a CBS reporter stated; “According to ESPN, the G League, the NBA’s developmental league, is creating a new venture available to elite American basketball prospects that will serve as a one-and-done alternative. The opportunity for said prospects will include “Select Contracts” worth $125,000 beginning in the summer of 2019 to elite prospects who are at least 18-years-old but not yet draft eligible”. The NBA G-League and the JBA offers players a new alternative and route to reaching the NBA, all whilst being paid and being scouted for their introduction to the NBA.

Change is Needed

The one and done rule and lack of pay in the NCAA are all problems that young players have to face before going to the NBA. This makes the path to the NBA much harder and it leads to many young talented athletes not making it to the big league. To make the path to the NBA easier and more dependent on skill rather than financial power, the recommended solutions should be instilled. Changes such as removing the one and done rule, instilling rules regarding pay for NCAA athletes, and keep making more rules to help young basketball athletes would benefit these young athletes. It would also make more athletes that give up before making it to the NBA be more motivated and have belief that they can make it. Also, with these changes there will be more young players applying to the draft, therefore there will be more competition which would lead to an overall better quality of players and the league. If all of these changes are instilled it will benefit basketball in the United States as a whole and make the road to the nba much easier for young athletes.

Works Cited

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Givony, J. (2018, October 24). G League to offer $125K to elite prospects as alternative to college one-and-done route. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/25015812/g-league-offer-professional-path-elite-prospects-not-wanting-go-one-done-route-ncaa

Kotloff, B. (2017, May 31). NBA D-League Alums Who’ve Made A Splash in the NBA Finals. Retrieved from https://gleague.nba.com/news/nba-finals-dleague-alums-053116/

Martin, J. (2018, July 07). LaVar Ball to reportedly raise JBA salaries for ‘top-ranked recruits’. Retrieved from https://lonzowire.usatoday.com/2018/07/06/lavar-ball-jba-league-player-salaries/

Mather, V., & Draper, K. (2018, October 18). N.B.A. G League to Offer Prospects $125,000 as Alternative to ‘One and Done’. Retrieved October 29, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/sports/nba-g-league-one-and-done.html

Phillips, G. (2015, November 09). For NCAA players, no big bucks, but an allowance. Retrieved October 29, 2018, from https://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/07/ncaa-athletes-get-no-big-contract-but-some-pay.html

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Schilken, C. (2018, March 01). College basketball players aren’t getting paid, but their coaches certainly are. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-college-basketball-coaches-salaries-20180301-story.html

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Zegers, C. (n.d.). What is the ‘One and Done’ Rule in College Hoops? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/one-and-done-325778

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