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What the Potential New NBA Draft Eligibility Rules Could Mean

By: Kenz Assaf

Since 2005, the NBA Draft required that players must be nineteen years old within the calendar year of the draft in order to get drafted, but the longstanding rule may finally be changing. According to NBA insider Shams Charania, the NBA and the NBPA are discussing the newest Collective Bargaining Agreement, which includes lowering that age from nineteen back to eighteen, where it was prior to 2005. This change effectively would allow high school seniors to enter the draft, eliminating the need for them to go to college. Commissioner Adam Silver said in July that he was “hopeful” for the rule changing in the next collective bargaining agreement cycle, and both sides appear motivated to reduce the age eligibility for the draft.

Currently, players can go “one-and-done” after high school, but that one year could be spent in college, abroad or even the G League. The new potential age limit brings it down a year and would start to allow 18-year-olds into the NBA. That means players will be able to forego the requirement they must be at least one year removed from their high school graduation. With the new rule in effect, players could go from high school, or the G League straight to the NBA, similar to notable superstars, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant.

Since 2005, the sports landscape has undergone dramatic changes and opened up more doors for 18-year-olds to make money before they reach the NBA, most prominently with the presence of new NIL deals and sponsorships. Although a majority of high school players with a first-round grade will most likely opt to skip college, those with a second-round grade will have a harder decision to make with NIL deals still on the table. Leaving us with the question; will it make sense for these athletes to go to college and try to improve their game while also benefiting from potential NIL deals? Or would it be better to be sitting on an NBA bench or in the G League? Because it's still very early in the NIL era, it can be hard to make that judgment quite yet, but one thing is for certain, passing this rule would send ripples throughout the NBA Draft, both now and in the future.

The new NBA Draft age limit may come into effect as early as 2024, which means there could be an outstanding double draft that year, where the best players from the 2024 high school class are in the same draft as the 2023 high school class and all other college upperclassmen. With that in mind, 2024 could be one of the most talented drafts ever in terms of potential talent.

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