The One-and-Done Rule has been a controversial topic for more than a decade now, as it was implemented prior to the 2006 NBA Draft, stating that players must be 19-years-old or one-year removed from high school, in order to enter the NBA Draft.
And the draft process got even more complicated for student athletes in 2016, when they were allowed to enter the combine and schedule interviews with teams. This gave college kids a chance to see where they would potentially be picked, and then decide to forgo their remaining eligibility or return to school. I’m in favor of this rule, because it seems to limit the amount of questionable decisions by young adults.
However, the NBA Draft will continue to be a controversial subject, because so many people are against student athletes spurning education for a quick pay day. So, let’s take a look at the different decisions that goes into a player choosing what he believes is best for him, and how these scenarios have turned out.
Jekyll and Hyde is the phrase that comes to mind when seeing a list of NBA players that entered the draft directly out of high school. We have witnessed incredible success stories like Moses Malone (1974), Kevin Garnett (1995), Kobe Bryant (1996), and Lebron James (2003), who have combined for 58 All-Star appearances, 10 NBA titles, and nine MVP awards. And then we’ve seen some of the biggest busts in NBA history with guys like Darius Miles (2000), Kwame Brown (2001), Robert Swift (2004), and Sebastian Telfair (2004). According to Celebrity New Worth, these four players have earned approximately $40 million, compared to James’ $340 million by his lonesome.
As for one-and-done players, it’s hard to determine the fate of all these NBA-ers, since the rule has only been in affect for about 10 years, but Carmelo Anthony (2003), Kevin Durant (2007), John Wall (2010), and Anthony Davis (2012) are potential Hall of Famers. While Evan Burns (2005), Davon Jefferson (2008), Tommy Mason-Griffin (2010), and Jereme Richmond (2011), all went undrafted and have never appeared in a NBA game.
It’s been a tough road for some of these players and the question will always be there: Would they have been more successful if they decided to return to school for at least one more year? This could have given them a chance to better develop their abilities and skills, without the pressure of making a NBA team and performing on the biggest of stages.
Most players from the 1960’s-1990’s played multiple years in college, and a large number of them graduated, before turning professional, but even in the one-and-done era, there have been good players earn their degrees and then play in the league. David Lee (2005), Jimmy Butler (2011), Damian Lillard (2012), and Draymond Green (2012) have all been All-Star caliber players at times in their careers, following graduation.
But then collegiate studs like Dee Brown (2006), Scottie Reynolds (2010), Sherron Collins (2010), and Jimmer Fredette (2011) decided to stay in school, even though the NBA was calling, and they’ve resulted in zero All-Star showings. Would these players’ careers have turned out more positive they entered the NBA Draft when the iron was still hot? We’ll never know.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Los Angeles Lakers legend, has recently spoken out against the one-and-done era, telling NBC Sports “It’s a travesty, I think. They’re just using the college system as a stepping stone to the NBA and that’s really unfortunate. I think an education is vital to having a good life and these guys aren’t getting that opportunity. It’s sad.”
“Our parents would like us to go to four-year schools for four years, but to have the opportunity to live out your dream that you’ve been working your whole life for, I feel like it should left to the kid and live with the result,” Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard, said to USA Today.
As you can see, there are arguments to all sides of the story. We have seen great players from all shapes and sizes of backgrounds, and the same can be said for NBA draftees that have flamed out of the league within five years. The one thing that we do know is that each player is different.
In the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft, one-and-done players Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, and Jayson Tatum are projected to be taken in the top-5, while sophomores Donovan Mitchell, O.G. Anunoby, Luke Kennard, and John Collins are supposed to be top-20 selections. Lastly, graduates Derrick White, Alec Peters, Josh Hart, and Frank Mason III are in the 30-50 range. And we have no idea which of these prospects will be successful NBA players in five or 10 years.
I think something can be said for waiting your turn, developing in school, earning your degree, and then looking to the NBA, but if a 19-year-old is ready to fulfill his life-long dream and compete at the highest level in the world (while making millions of dollars), then who’s to say he’s making the incorrect choice?
The point of college is to find the career that you can make the most money doing, while being happy, and if that’s the NBA, then why not leave early? You can always go back to college and graduate, like T.J. Ford did last week, when your professional career is past.
It’s already a difficult decision for many of these kids, and it doesn’t help to have the media and outsiders breathing down their necks, pressuring them into making the choice that they may not feel comfortable doing. Obviously, we are going to see multiple All-Stars and busts come to fruition in the near future, but it’s an independent decision that needs to be made on a case-to-case basis.
Photo Credit: NJ.com, Sports Illustrated, and Twitter.