For years, college basketball has been seen as the bridge from high school basketball to the NBA. Players would go to college for under a year, play basketball, and declare for the NBA draft immediately after the season. Very few players would stay for four years to earn their degree, and even fewer stayed for four years and went on to have a successful NBA playing career. College basketball quickly turned to the “one and done” type of recruiting, where instead of building a program around a young core for a few years, coaches would help their players’ draft stock as they know they are only in college for one season.
The “one and done” era has not settled nicely with everyone though. Some people think that schools should save their scholarship money and not give elite basketball talent that will leave the school in less than a year. Others feel as if players are ultimately being forced to go to college because that is the only way to the NBA, so eliminating the “one and done” rule could provide other alternatives to make it to the NBA. The NBA G-League took the first step into eliminating the “one and done” rule with their announcement earlier today.
The G-League will offer “select contracts” worth $125,000 to elite basketball talent who are at least 18 years old but are not eligible for the NBA draft. In other words, instead of going to college, high school basketball players can go play in the G-League for $125,000 after they graduate. Sounds awesome, right? Well, yes making six figures to play basketball at 18 years old sounds like the best case scenario, but what other factors come into play?
To start, let’s look at the pros and cons of going to play college basketball.
- College basketball has been around FOREVER. It is a shared experience among 99.99999% of the NBA. Playing college basketball is part of the initiation process before making an NBA team.
- Players will be noticed more if they play college basketball. When was the last time (if ever) you sat down and watched a G-League game? Probably never. How about for college basketball? People regularly watch college basketball and follow certain teams and players very closely throughout the year, which will obviously lead to more exposure. Which brings me to my next point…
- Two words: March Madness. If you never ran through a March Madness scenario when you were a kid playing basketball in your driveway, then I don’t know what you were thinking. Everyone wants to play in maybe the most exciting sports tournament. Skipping out on college obviously means you skip out on March Madness.
- Look, if someone offered you $125,000 and the only thing you had to do was to NOT go to school, it would be hard to say no. College is expensive and stressful. Most players don’t even want to be there but are forced to go. Having to play somewhere that you don’t really want to be at can’t be fun.
- You are not being paid $125,000. Okay, maybe you are under the table or something, but at least in the G-League, there is not going to be a huge scandal around being paid.
- College basketball does not translate to NBA basketball. In college, only a select few will have successful NBA careers. Other than that, you play against a bunch of teenagers who were good enough to get a scholarship, but not good enough to make it to the league. Playing in the G-League gives you the experience playing against grown men all wanting a shot at the NBA.
Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of playing in the G-League.
- You learn NBA life right away. From traveling, to practicing, to games, etc you learn how to be a professional very quickly.
- Being 18 years old making six figures…enough said.
- If you do well against other borderline professionals, that looks so much better than if you do well against college players.
- You learn NBA life right away. From traveling, to practicing, to games, etc you learn how to be a professional very quickly. “Wait, didn’t he just this was a pro?” Yes, but remember how you were like at 18 years old. Imagine following a strict schedule, following a diet, and functioning off of almost no rest? Yuck.
- These “G-League rookies” will make $125,000 per year. What is the average G-League salary? A light $35,000 salary with added performance bonuses. I can’t imagine someone 7 years older than these rookies will be all too pleased making a significantly lesser amount of money.
- These players are only offered a one-year contract. What if they get hurt? A team could take the risk of drafting a hurt player, but that risk could be too high for some teams. At least in college, if you get injured you could always come back instead of declaring for the draft.
The NBA is expected to allow players to go from high school straight to the draft by the time the 2022 draft rolls around. If so, then this whole story is kind of for nothing. Yeah, players could still do the college or the G-League route, but the best of the best will surely enter the draft right after graduation. Either way, any chance to stick it to the NCAA is fine by me.
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Photo: CBS Sports