"One and Done" rule has run its course

"One and Done" rule has run its course


    In most professions, an individual's qualifications are the primary criteria for whether or not they would be an asset to an organization. If you happen to have the qualities that the organization is looking for, they hire you. It is a simple process and it makes good sense. In the NBA, the process isn't so simple. 

     In 2005 the NBA enacted the "one and done" rule. This rule, which the players union agreed to, bans athletes from entering the NBA until one year after their high school graduation. The consequences of this rule are felt by college programs, fans, and athletes across the board. 

    Explanations as to the rationale behind the ban are usually vague, and describe the NBA as looking out for the best interests of the athletes. The NBA says it wants high school players to go to college to develop more as players and as people. This may be true. But the reality is that owners and GM's of NBA franchises put the rule in place to protect themselves from making bad judgements on talent. They want to see more of players to get a better feel for how they will adapt to the NBA. It is easy to understand why they do not want players to make the jump straight from high school. However, the ban does a disservice to all those who follow and enjoy both the college and NBA game. 

    The ban is bad for many reasons. The first reason being that it puts college programs in a constant state of flux, and coaches struggle to plan out the long term organization of the team. Coaches are not always aware of a players intentions to stay in school or declare for the draft, and that can make the recruiting process problematic. Some players who have no intention of staying in school are at risk of being somewhat uncommitted to the program, or to their academics. Many coaches including Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Crean, and Rick Pitino all have been vocal about their problems with the one and done rule.

    Fans of teams are also left wondering whether or not the best players on the team are going to be around in the coming years. It is the equivalent to following a  professional franchise where the teams best players are free agents who were almost guaranteed to be leaving the team in the offseason. The rule helps foster a culture where the fans, players and coaches never know what the state of the team is going to be in the next few seasons. 

    Another argument proponents of the rule have is that players out of high school generally have maturing to do on the court, and a minimum of one year in college helps to facilitate that. This is untrue. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James all made the jump straight from high school. Other less decorated players, but still solid NBA players who made the jump include Jermaine O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, Andrew Bynum, and Monta Ellis. All of these players are or were at some time top level NBA talent. They obviously didn't need a year of college basketball to hone their skill set. 

    The most pressing issue with this biased rule is that is puts certain NBA teams in very tough situations. There is speculation that certain teams lose games on purpose for the opportunity to draft a player who is going to spend one year in college. Certain players make it very clear that their intentions are to leave college after one year, and this puts unwarranted pressure on NBA organizations. The one and done rule artificially inflates or deflates the talent in a particular draft depending on the year. A player who goes number one overall may not even be a top five overall talent, but because there are better players who are forced into attending college for one year, he ends up going number one. 

    Not only is the ban damaging to the college game, but it is unfair to high school athletes who are talented enough to play in the NBA. The NBA needs to change this rule. They either need to increase the ban to two or three years, or better yet eliminate it entirely.