The NBA and NCAA Should Adopt Major League Baseball’s Draft Rules

Last night, after all was said and done in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament, Head Coach Bo Ryan of Wisconsin was a bit salty about the way that Duke had structured its team around a group of one-and-done players:

All the seniors that I’ve had — hard to say the word. But every player that’s played through the program, okay, we don’t do a rent-a-player. You know what I mean? Try to take a fifth-year guy. That’s okay. If other people do that, that’s okay. I like trying to build from within. It’s just the way I am. And to see these guys grow over the years and to be here last year and lose a tough game, boom, they came back.”

You could easily write off Ryan’s comments as those coming from a sore loser, or more gently, as coming from someone who was bitterly disappointed about losing a hard-fought game that came down to the last minute or so to be decided.  Or, you could take it as Ryan making a statement about his philosophy towards team building: to bring in players who aren’t making a pit-stop in college on the way to the NBA and develop them into a top-notch squad capable of beating anyone in the country once they mature and have solidified their skills under his tutelage.

I prefer to take the latter.  Sure, Ryan’s comments were ill-timed, and the truth is, his own school did pretty well “renting” QB Russell Wilson as a fifth year senior who wanted to play one more year of college football before going to the NFL.  But that doesn’t take away from his larger point that the college basketball is a bit skewed at the moment towards schools that attract players that are stuck in limbo between high school and their true aim, which is to play hoops for money in the NBA.  Kentucky, Duke and other “blue-blood” programs are usually the preferred stops for those young men, as they are the marquee teams with the most exposure that will best showcase their talents and enhance their draft stock.  Rarely do they take college seriously.

The current NBA rules state that a player who wants to the NBA must be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school.  Otherwise, those players are not eligible to enter their names into the annual NBA Draft.  They ostensibly could play in Europe or in the NBA’s Development League, which is essentially an ignored minor league comprised mostly of players whose talents are good enough for the big show.  Those players toil in obscurity and poverty compared to the ones who take the pit stop in college route, and for many, playing in Europe may as well be Mars, so it’s an easy choice to go to college, train in multimillion dollar facilities built out of booster donations and pretend to pursue a degree for a semester and then leave as soon as the current NBA rules allow.

There’s a better way.  Major League Baseball and its players’ union, the MLBPA perfected it a long time ago.  Instead of the one-and-done rule, young baseball players have two options:

Certain groups of players are ineligible for selection, generally because they are still in school. The basic categories of players eligible to be drafted are:

  • High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
  • College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
  • Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed

A Club generally retains the rights to sign a selected player until 11:59 PM (EDT) August 15, or until the player enters, or returns to, a four-year college on a full-time basis. A player who is drafted and does not sign with the Club that selected him may be drafted again at a future year’s Draft, so long as the player is eligible for that year’s Draft. A Club may not select a player again in a subsequent year, unless the player has consented to the re-selection.

That allows the most talented prep players to enter into the professional ranks immediately, but if they decide to attend a four year university, they have to wait until after their junior year to partake in the next Major League Baseball draft.

The latter option has given great stability to the college edition of baseball, and it has  helped the game grow and gain traction in a busy sports landscape.  The NCAA playoffs and College World Series used to be a minor afterthought even amongst most diehard baseball fans, but these days, it has become more and more compelling even to casual fans who don’t follow the regular season.  The rising interest in college baseball has also drawn booster interest, and many schools have been able to afford new facilities based on increased donations.

Basketball could do the same using the same rules, and it would introduce more stability into the game.  Sure, the Jahlil Okafors and Karl Towns of the prep ranks would skip college and go straight to the Association, but there would be more players like Montrezl Harrell, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker types that developed into top draft picks after a few years of college.  It would allow for more teams like Wisconsin and, yes, NC State to develop their youth into potential Final Four teams that could win the national title just as easily as a Duke, a Kentucky or a Kansas.  And the programs that best develop their talent could reach that upper tier of the game more regularly.

That rising tide would lift all boats, enhance the college game and make it even more compelling than it already is.  It would also help the NBA, as more experienced and more solid players would be available for the draft.  And it could well happen, as the NBA and NBAPA are moving ever-closer to changing its rules:

Dan Rube, NBA Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel said that ending the one-and-done rule would allow teams better decisions with draft pics and better analysis of talent.  He added that the NBA believes getting rid of the one-and-done rule is in the interest of both the NBA and the NBPA.

Ron Klempner, Acting Executive Director of NBA Players Association, said the death of the one-and-done rule is a “strong possibility.”  He added that it would “have to work both ways” in order for a more restrictive rule to be put in place.  Klempner suggested that the NBA, NBPA and NCAA come up with system to put one-and-done aside.

Hopefully, instead of a two-year rule, as many think will come to pass, they will go the best route and choose the best system that’s already proven to work well for all parties.  That would be baseball’s rules.

Baseball College Basketball

Home Forums The NBA and NCAA Should Adopt Major League Baseball’s Draft Rules

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • Author
  • #84659
    Alpha Wolf

    Last night, after all was said and done in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament, Head Coach Bo Ryan of Wisconsin was a bit salty about the way that Du
    [See the full post at: The NBA and NCAA Should Adopt Major League Baseball’s Draft Rules]


    The NBA doesn’t want the MLB rule. The whole point of making them wait an extra year is to lower the risk of drafting a lemon. The MLB rule still has that risk.

    Seeing players with a year in college experience makes scout’s jobs much easier. Seeing them in college two or three years would be even better, of course, but there is no desire to revert backwards to have the option of NO college. Just make it 2 or 3 years.

    This of course would help the elite programs at the expense of the others. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to pass.


    I’ve always been surprised that the owners don’t push for something longer than one year simply from a financial risk position. Having three years to judge the players should minimize the busts and wasted dollars.


    There have always been draft busts, some bigger than others (hello, Sam Bowie). But with today’s rules, at least from the outside, it’s a crap shoot. Having three years would provide MUCH for data for proper analysis, and NBA owners would be able to hold their draft analysts accountable at a whole new level.

    The junior rule would definitely lift all boats, since the primary impact would be fewer seats available, year over year, at the elite programs.


    If some players are required to stay for three years, we will circle back to the issue of keeping them eligible and the yet unresolved mess over at *NC. I would like to see a player being told, “You need to go ahead and try to go pro because you are too much of a liability for any school to take you for three years.”


    Ryan’s comments come across as a bit unfair to other programs, but whatevs.

    At a minimum, I’d like to see the ‘one year out’ rule removed. It’s an awful rule that is awful for most parties, and I really don’t see how much benefit NBA clubs are getting from it. One year is one year, it’s not going to show you that much – there’s always risks. It’s also damn near criminal to disallow a worthy candidate because of some psuedo age restriction.

    The Lebrons and Kobes are extreme rare exceptions. I’m glad to see that some NBA brass have been awakening to the fact that potential and athleticism are not guarantees of success/skills and return on investment. Really, they didn’t have much choice but to awaken to this fact … after the game nose dived in popularity in the late 90’s and early 2000’s they had no choice but to stop stocking their rosters based on ‘potential’ alone and to pin all their hopes on the next 17-year old wunderkind (good job, good effort Espn – you tried). I’ve never understood the logic of being in a game of skill and merit, yet basing all of your GM decisions based on potential and hype … but whatever.

    There’s a reason the Spurs win a lot – they have highly skilled players who execute their plans as a team. It’s not freaking rocket science, it’s basketball. The Spurs are very European-centric, and I’d posit that their success with European style skill sets and execution is an example of how far American-centric basketball has fallen. Please don’t read that wrong – that’s not an assault on the NBA or it’s players – it is, currently, a highly skilled game played by the best players in the world. I’m saying that the Spurs’ successes against their peers show how far behind the times the US game has become. Now teams – like the Hawks – are emulating the Spurs both in style and in roster make up. I’m getting off track, but this is worthy of a more in-depth look imo.

    The above is why I feel like a baseball type rule for the NBA and NCAA would be good even for the NBA. The word is out and people are learning that the overwhelming majority of these kids need time to mature and develop as people, mature and develop their games, and to be frank – to unlearn the “teaching and instruction” from AAU opportunists. A lot of these kids have to be taught the most basic of skills and fundamentals when they reach college/university. A damn shame. It was even more of a shame when every NBA team was on the hunt for the next Kobe and drafting busts over and over … it truly cost the league big time. The league just is now getting back their watch-ability and interest with the casual fan.


    No doubt the baseball rule is a better solution for the NBA. There is a lot less risk after three years than there is after one. The college game would be a thousand time better with this arrangement. If somebody needed the money they could go to Europe after one or two years.


    There’s a reason the Spurs win a lot

    There are definite reasons the Spurs win a lot. It is probably the best run organization in the NBA and has the best coach in the NBA.

    But I don’t think they are a perfect example to cite for your argument. The Spurs are typically picking very late because of their success, so they haven’t really been in position to draft the elite one and done players. Also, of the 15 players on their current roster, the Spurs only drafted 6 of them: Duncan, Ginobili, Leonard, Parker, Splitter and Cory Joseph. Joseph was a one and done player, and Parker was equivalent to a one and done player (he bypassed college for one year before entering the NBA draft). Certainly that group of drafted players shows they have been successful at drafting, but it hasn’t been because they exclude one and dones.

    Having said all that, I am certainly in favor of the NBA increasing the number of years required in college before being eligible for the NBA.

    john of sparta

    three things:
    1. my brackets were busted early enough to invalidate any prediction.
    2. if an 18-year-old can be in the military, that’s enough for me.
    3. so, “talent” of any age *should* be able to exploit said talent for $.



    I think the kids should be able to go pro @ 18 if they want… I don’t have a problem with baseball rule, but I ‘spect it will make Duke’s and Kentucky’s even stronger.

    Of course, we might be able to keep some of our burger boys longer too.


    I feel like some sort of direct partnership between the NCAA and the D-League would be beneficial here.


    Adopting the MLB Draft rule would be an excellent upgrade.

    As for the high school busts…the data would say that’s a bit overstated.

    From 95 until they stopped in 2005, 23 High School players were taken using one of the first 20 picks in a draft. Of those, 9 have made NBA All-Star teams and All-NBA teams.

    And for those taken in the lottery (top 13 IIRC), 8 All-NBA players and nearly all the rest have played at least 500 NBA games.

    The All-NBA guys in the top 20 are Lebron, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Amare Stoudemire, Kobe, Andrew Bynum, and Jermaine O’Neal.


    As for the high school busts…the data would say that’s a bit overstated.

    From 95 until they stopped in 2005, 23 High School players were taken using one of the first 20 picks in a draft. Of those, 9 have made NBA All-Star teams and All-NBA teams.

    And for those taken in the lottery (top 13 IIRC), 8 All-NBA players and nearly all the rest have played at least 500 NBA games.

    ^Thanks for the data. I have no problem being corrected!

    Still, my overriding point was that the quality of play in the NBA suffered pretty heavily within the timeframe of your given data. This is an entirely subjective view though, admittedly.


    I want to continue the thought process NCSU88 started above concerning academics. Take the situation where a kid flunks out after his first year. Can he go ahead and jump straight to the league or is he consigned to D-league or Europe until 21 or 3 years removed from High School? As for the school, do they lose anything for not achieving significant educational progress with the kids? Does this provide an incentive to create dumbed down curricula to keep kids eligible for three years instead of just one?

    I am much more concerned about what happens to the schools when they are incentivized to cheat to keep kids eligible. We’ve seen it happen locally and there has been no punishment. Cal can bring kids in, put them in basket weaving, pay them under the new rules that everyone seems to be proposing and never pay the price for not educating the kids. I just don’t trust the academic standards to help keep this new rule enforced.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.