There is a debate which started a couple weeks ago when Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, came out and said he thought the NBA D-league was a better option for some players, rather than having to go and spend at least one year in college. He feels getting into a “professional” environment would benefit those players more than being in the college atmosphere. But you could easily let those comments slide, because he is an NBA owner and has a vested interest in the success of the D-league. While on the other hand, SMU head coach Larry Brown is all in favor of keeping the kids in College until they are ready. It is true, there are players who have made the jump from High School to the NBA with little problem, but in reality, there are fewer players who could do it than the ones we watch today who are successful.
But Players like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, who all made the jump into the NBA out of High School and have had very good careers while being very popular. But what few will remember, is the simple fact each of these players didn’t bust out and have stellar seasons from the first game. It took each of them a season or two before they really got into a groove and started doing the things they were supposed to. This leads me to the question, could these guys have benefited from a year or two of college ball? Maybe…but we will never know the answer because it didn’t happen.
The advantage to going into the College game is there are great coaches at the college level, some of which have NBA experience and they will be able to help prepare these players for what they may face in the NBA. But I don’t think you do the players, or even the universities justice with the “one and done” rule. If you’re going to make a kid go to school and play basketball, then you should have a similar rule to College Football and make the players stay until their high school class has been out for 3 years. That would mean most players would be leaving after their junior year. This would benefit the College game and the players, because they could spend those years becoming more sound and be prepared for the professional environment of the NBA. In the College atmosphere, you will have people looking out for you and helping you reach your full potential.
I am not against the NBA D-league; it has its place and can be a great tool for the NBA and players who just aren’t ready to shine in NBA. But trying to flood it with kids who aren’t ready for the professional environment and could stand some better coaching from the college game will do more to hurt the league. I think the NBA would benefit more from a better relationship with the NCAA, and work with them to keep kids from jumping out of school too early. But the NBA commissioner will bow to the wish of all the owners, because the owners truly run the league. If they open the D-league to players from high school, or “one and done” type players, then I fear you will see the quality of the game go downhill. Both the NCAA and NBA could end up suffering.