Silver said the NBA believes the age limit should be raised to 20, which would force players to spend at least two seasons in college. The union pushed for the limit to be lowered to 18, thereby allowing players to enter the draft straight out of high school, a practice the league ended with the introduction of the age limit in 2006. Either way, the status quo is in peril.
“We all agreed we need to make a change,” Silver said. “It’s one of those issues we need to come together and study. … My sense is, It’s not working for anyone.”
In 2006, the NBA grew concerned about unripe players entering the league directly from high school and instituted the limit. In the time since, one-and-done players have taken over college and provided the NBA new issues relating to readiness.
The NBA projects 20 draftees — a full third of the two-round draft — will have spent one year in college. In this year’s draft, the top 10 prospects, according to NBA Draft Express, all played only season in college. The past seven No. 1 overall picks have all been one-and-done players.
College basketball has largely suffered. Kentucky has built an dominant program by reloading annually with top freshmen. But the college game is worse off from having its best players lack name recognition, and overall performance has dropped as teams lack chemistry.
“It’s not working, certainly from the college coaches and athletic directors I hear from,” Silver said. “They’re not happy with the current system. And I know our teams aren’t happy, either, in part because they don’t necessarily think that the players are coming into the league are getting the kind of training that they would expect to see among the top draft picks in the league.”
Silver added that even veteran players have expressed concern about the preparedness of players entering the NBA.
Silver said the NBA is “looking at” new ways to introduce 18-year-old players to enter its developmental league. Starting next year, each developmental league team will be able to sign two players to a “two-way” contract, paying more than a developmental league salary but less than the full NBA minimum.