A recent report by Shams Al Shaaraniya indicates that the NBA and the NBAPA are discussing Reducing the age limit from 19 to 18 years (Subscription required). If that happens, it will just be the latest change by the NBA that undermines NCAA men’s college basketball.
Although this may be unintentional, it helps the NBA and hurts the NCAA men’s basketball, which is actually more of a competitor than a partner at this point. After all, there seems to be very little overlap between fans, even though it’s the same sport, so the NBA doesn’t have much to lose and much to gain.
NBA changes began to affect college basketball.
Aside from the proposed reduction of the age limit, the NBA’s G League has finally become a true farm system. Teams can now send out young players for more training and play time, as well as summon players who have proven their abilities.
This added two two-way roster points, increasing the number of second-round picks and unoccupied new agent operatives making up a team. With a real shot at making a list and a place where they can prove themselves, staying in college just doesn’t make as much sense as it once was to potential clients outside of the first round.
Some of these players sign with the G League directly, or after signing an Exhibit 10 contract, which is basically a good contract that usually comes with some guaranteed money. The G League pays at least $37,000 a season, which is better than the NCAA offering from nothing. Also, the collateral of a 10 demo contract can add up to $50,000 to this total, while two-way contracts can be closer to $500,000.
We’ve also seen an increase in the odds of the elite skipping league altogether and signing with the G League Ignite. This is mainly due to financial opportunities such as sCancellation of one-year private contracts It’s worth up to $500,000 plus endorsement deals. As a result, Ignite became the de facto G League team of the best youngsters looking for an alternative to the NCAA.
They’ve had some big odds, too, including former second overall pick Jalen Green and this year’s number eight pick, Dyson Daniels. In total, they have had seven players selected in the last two drafts, three of which were lottery picks, but this does not include Scoot Henderson. Henderson is in his second season with Ignite and he is Expected to be the second choice In one of the best drafts of recent years.
The NBA is right to focus on making changes, even if they negatively impact the game.
Between the G League Ignite serving as a paid alternative to young top prospects and the NBA lowering the age limit, the NCAA will go from seeing some outstanding talent to having almost none. Without the one-year rule forcing players to go to college, the likes of Zion Williamson, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis would have likely gone straight to the NBA or even G League Ignite.
Without players like them to go to college, even for one season, it would definitely hurt college basketball rankings and revenue while helping boost interest in the NBA. Having a high probability going straight to the NBA cuts the middle and allows teams to reap the benefits of these players sooner. After all, would players like Durant, Davis, and Irving be less influential right out of the gate if they didn’t spend a few months playing college basketball? Mostly not.
However, they immediately helped the NBA team. For teens who aren’t ready to contribute right away, the G League is the perfect place for them to develop, and that wasn’t a thing the last time the NBA minimum age was set at 18.
All in all, with the NBA seeking to lower the age limit, the rise of the G League Ignite, and the G League itself, has already hurt or will hurt college basketball. On the other hand, it will only help the NBA, which is what ultimately matters.