With congressman Steve Cohen saying to the NBA that they should disband the age limit in their next collective bargaining agreement, I just wanted to gauge opinions and see what folks here had to say. I also wanted to throw in my couple pennies, as I have talked about this quite a bit, and really see this from both sides of the coin. Ultimately, while I feel it is a players choice as to what they would like to do, especially as an 18 year old and therefore an adult, I can not help but like the current age limit for a few reasons. Lets put this in the perspective of major league sports, the four major American leagues being the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB. The NBA is honestly the one that takes the most flack for the age limit, while the other leagues all have systems instituted to go around this discussion. With the NFL, people seem to have no problem with its age limit, as they feel that with 3 years of post high school education, a players body has had time to develop, and that is very valid, so their is not much talk of that system being unfair. I also feel the other two leagues, NHL and MLB, have systems in place for younger players to develop until their time comes. While the NBA has minor leagues and other venues, it just does not work as a system of farming players until the teams feels they are "ready." I guess the NBA does not have this because players have contributed out of high school, and it honestly would not make sense to start a true farm system, as most players would rather ride the pine the go down to the D-League. Ultimately, the age limit system is not overly fair, it is not at all flawless and the NBA is using it for their best interests. But, as a fan of NBA and college basketball, I have to admit that the age limit is a guilty pleasure.
Ever since the age limit was instituted, their seem to be very few proponents of the good it provides. People say the age limit takes away scholarships from deserving basketball players as it promotes one and done players. It truly did make the draft of 2006 much weaker overall, which it would have done regardless of what year it was instituted. The biggest complaint seems to be with the fact that overall, many of the players that entered the NBA out of high school are some of the best players in the league. James, Bryant, Howard, Garnett, McGrady, Jermaine O'Neal, Stoudemire, and their are more All-Stars and solid players I left off of the list. The reason the list is so long is very simple, many of the top players in their high school class were going pro every single year. Guys even started doing pretty well right from the get go, two won rookie of the year, one was close and than came the age limit. The reason I see the age limit as such a guilty pleasure though, is what it has done to both the NBA and college game that people do not seem to be pointing out.
Tim Duncan was, and most likely is, the last player to willingly to go through all 4 years of college as a franchise type player (Brandon Roy needed his 4 years, worked out very well for him). But, the way I see it, is that for these guys preparing for a career in basketball, college is just a way to get better at playing basketball until they can get to the next level. College is the NBA's minor league system, and as a fan I have accepted it and honestly enjoy it. College players used to have to sit out freshman year and play with JV, now they play freshman year and go to NBA varsity. Was kind of ridiculous than, is more than ridiculous now, but I am sure that it was fun to see people finally lace'em up with that year of seasoning under their belt. One and done players existed before the age limit, they would exist after the age limit, the only difference being is that we get to see the best of each high school class play a year of college ball! As a kid, I used to love reading about statistics, I would love it when a new player came into the league and killed it from the get go. When I would see a guy not putting up great numbers right off the bat out of high school, I would say "Man, what would they have done in college this year?" Now, we actually get to see that! Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley put up ridiculous numbers. Greg Oden was a first team All-American, Derrick Rose lead his team to a few foul shots away from a championship, I do not think people can deny that college basketball has been pretty cool with these guys suiting up even for one year. Plus, I do not think people will argue that when guys come to the league, they are now going to be more prepared, have that year of seasoning and more ready to play out of the gate. Imagine if LeBron James started off his career averaging 27.5 points per game? Take off LeBron's first year and he is at 28.8 points per game for his career, which would put him a lot closer to the likes of Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as far as career scoring average. This may not mean a lot to some people, but to me, it would be amazing if LeBron cracked 30.14, and his first year is honestly his lowest by far. Again, might not matter to most people, but high school players commonly had this boom from first year to second year, and I think it would have been pretty awesome if they could have come in at that second year clip.
I feel that competition level also plays a factor, and that maybe college is not there anymore on that front. I also commonly here the other side, that people who skip school to play pro (NBA, Europe), will never reach their full maturity level because they will have missed the valuable experiences which college provides for you to blossom into the man you are supposed to become (paraphrasing what I have heard from people I have discussed with). Well, I went to college, did not play sports, and I honestly do not which side is the truth. But, from my standpoint, the players under this age limit are on the career path of a basketball player. I think they would want to do whatever they would think is best for them, whether it is going through the environment that a college provides or maybe playing against better competition and thrusting yourself into your future career by going to Europe. I feel that the congressman's theory that the NBA's age limit was adding to the corruption that was already rampant with the college system is ludicrous. However, if he feels like the guys should just straight up have a right to play out of high school, and is looking at the players best interest, than he may have a point. But, selfishly, I love what the age limit provides, and if they NBA chose to disband, I guess I would be slightly disappointed (Until I realized that whatever draft would be STACKED with the best players two classes had to offer, but that would just be fun for one year).
Well, I am sorry for blathering about this, would love to hear others opinions on the age limit, whether they like it or not and what they would want to happen to it or think might happen to it. I honestly feel like there are many things to discuss on this topic, plus feel free to agree or dispute with what I have just outlined.