The NFL may be the most popular sports league, but the NBA has the most potential.

From All-Star Weekend to it’s global rise in popularity, more young boys grow up playing basketball and dreaming of making it to the big stage.

Jahlil Okafor

The debate about “one-and-done” in college basketball has the NBA discussing if the age limit should be increased to 20 years old. But there are also strong arguments in favor of letting high school players make the jump directly to the NBA. The reason the NBA has an age restriction is two-fold: to improve the level of play and keep college basketball exciting. Unfortunately for star athletes with economic challenges, college may provide a platform to showcase their skills, but it doesn’t help support them financially while attending school.

What if there was a way to help both sides while giving high school athletes a choice to make?

Take for instance Brandon Jennings and¬†Emmanuel Mudiay. Both players opted to play overseas instead of college. There’s speculation as to why, but one of the advantages is they got paid immediately to play basketball. It’s not “NBA money” by any means, but if you’re not working and now you can get paid to do what you love it’s an palatable option.

Emmanuel Mudiay

 

The following suggestion is not unique, in fact it was discussed on ESPN radio, but it’s a solid solution: high school graduates can choose to play in the D-league for one year or commit to college for at least 2 years. The D-league has been underutilized since it’s inception plus this would give college coaches extra time to recruit. The talent in college basketball would improve, but let’s focus on the D-league impact.

For high school athletes that prefer to jump to the NBA, the D-league could be like a farm system. Can you imagine the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Jahlil Okafor playing in the D-league? This would draw fans out to games, help young players understand the nuances of the professional game and give athletes a chance to prove themselves against fellow rookies and journeymen at a higher level of competition than college basketball. During the draft, first year D-league players would be eligible to be selected and those who are will be better prepared to play in the NBA.

Jabari Brown – D-Fenders/Lakers

Basketball is about talent, but a year in the D-league would develop fundamentals and basketball IQ. This in turn would help the overall level of play in the NBA so both leagues would benefit. The NCAA makes tremendous money off of college programs, but it’s unlikely students will ever get paid. Therefore let’s give high school athletes the same decision as other aspiring professionals: attend college or skip it entirely and go straight into the league, the D-league that is.

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Author, blogger, speaker & die-hard Lakers fan

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