The NBA Age Limit Debate

nba-logoI was engaged in a very “spirited” debate recently with another WP blogger on the subject of the NBA age limit. The argument centered around Jeremy Tyler, the San Diego HS junior who has decided to skip his senior year of HS to play pro ball overseas. A lot of people feel like the age limit is stupid and I used to be one of those people. I felt like if a tennis player or a baseball player could go pro at a young age or straight out of HS, then what’s wrong with a HS kid who plays basketball doing it? I used to feel that it was racial issue because basketball is predominately played by blacks while those other sports are not. Well, I don’t feel that way anymore. I think what David Stern did is pure genius and that’s why I think he’s the best commissioner in any sport hands down.

First off, let’s not allow David Stern to shoulder all the blame for the age limit rule. This was voted on and put into place by the NBPA which is the union comprised of active, veteran NBA players. Secondly, let’s look at a sport like baseball which drafts kids straight out of HS. The current baseball system is divided up this way: MLB, AAA, AA, Class A, Class A-Advanced, Short Season-A, Rookie Advanced & Rookie which is the lowest level of minor league baseball. Not to mention you have independent leagues which aren’t affiliated with MLB but still drafts kids and pays them. I don’t know how many players that comes out to based on all of those leagues, but it’s clearly obvious that there are many, many more opportunities for a kid to succeed in pro baseball than in pro basketball which only has the NBA (30 teams) and the D-League (17 teams) with 12-15 players per team. The failure rate in pro-basketball is astronomically high, therefore while imposing an age limit on entrants doesn’t necessarily “guarantee” success, forcing a kid to wait a year and play college ball, go to prep school or the more recent trend of playing overseas prepares him mentally, physically, and exponentially increases his chance to succeed in the NBA.

Some say that if a HS kid is ready to make the jump to the pros then let him; but how do you evaluate that? Ask any HS player who’s nationally ranked in the top 20 of their class if they’re ready to make the jump to the NBA, I guarantee you 90% of them will say yes. But they’re not saying yes to being able to compete, they’re saying yes to the money. NBA teams were investing millions of dollars into a HS kid based on his upside and potential and more often than not, they never saw a return on their investment. The player came up, but the organization got screwed. So even though teams weren’t losing their shirts, a line had to be drawn somewhere. For every LeBron James, there’s a Korleone Young. For every Dwight Howard there’s a Leon Smith. The NBA and its teams are in the business of making money, not giving it away.

Ultimately I don’t feel that the rule needs to be changed or eliminated because I think it’s for the betterment of the player, not the league. Look at the success that Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo experienced this past season. Had they been allowed to jump straight from prep-to-pro would they have had the same success? Probably not. In fact, the coaches on their respective teams wouldn’t have given them the ball right away and they probably would’ve sat most of their rookie season. Guys like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudamire, LeBron James and Dwight Howard are all exceptions to the rule. Sure they all struggled their rookie seasons, but they were also integral parts of their respective teams and each cracked the playing rotation. Guys like Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Rashard Lewis, Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson all had to wait a couple of years before they became stars in the NBA; it was hit or miss with them. Here’s my list and classification of every prep-to-pro player and you can decide for yourself:

Prep-To-Pro Stars (Players who currently or used to have a featured role on their teams)

  • Kevin Garnett
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Jermaine O’Neal
  • Tracy McGrady
  • Rashard Lewis
  • Amare Stoudamire
  • LeBron James
  • Dwight Howard
  • Al Jefferson
  • Monta Ellis

Prep-To-Pro Contributors (Players with significant roles on their teams)

  • Stephen Jackson
  • Al Harrington
  • DeShawn Stevenson
  • Tyson Chandler
  • Travis Outlaw
  • Kendrick Perkins
  • Josh Smith
  • JR Smith
  • Andrew Bynum
  • CJ Miles
  • Louis Williams

Prep-To-Pro Busts (Players who’ve never or have yet to pan out in the NBA)

  • Korleone Young
  • Jonathan Bender
  • Leon Smith
  • Darius Miles
  • Kwame Brown
  • Eddy Curry
  • DeSagana Diop
  • Ousmane Cisse
  • Ndudi Ebi
  • James Lang
  • Shaun Livingston
  • Robert Swift
  • Sebastian Telfair
  • Dorell Wright
  • Jackie Butler
  • Martell Webster
  • Gerald Green
  • Andray Blatche
  • Amir Johnson

Of the 40 HS players drafted since Kevin Garnett entered the league in 1995, almost half of them can be considered busts. That’s both shocking and alarming and the reason why the NBA age limit should be in place. A year or two in college could’ve helped these guys significantly. Sure they’re all millionaires now, but if that’s more important than being the best basketball player you can be then there’s certainly a problem. For a lot of these guys, the money is the only thing that mattered. And that’s not what the game is about.

Rasheed Wallace – Greatest Postgame Interview EVER!!

A little throwback moment for you guys…LOL

Dwight Howard Facing Possible Game 6 Suspension

86012991SG008_PHILADELPHIA_Dwight Howard had 24pts, 24rebs and 1 thrown elbow to the head of Samuel Dalembert which could possibly earn him a seat next to Stan “The Master of Panic” Van Gundy in Philly for game 6. Interim head coach Tony DiLeo has asked the league to review video of the elbow thrown by Howard in the opening minutes of the game and I’m convinced that Stu Jackson will find that it was a flagrant offense and he will be served with a one game suspension and a fine. The refs T’d him up but didn’t eject him and “Superman” went on to dominate the rest of the night. Howard says that he’s not trying to hurt anybody out there and I believe him, but even the most even keeled players — which Dwight Howard is — can and will get frustrated and react out on the court. So if he is suspended, at least he won’t have to sit out an elimination game but it is eerily reminiscent of the ’07 Spurs/Suns series when Amare Stoudamire got suspended for game 5 which I think ultimately cost the Suns and sent them home for the summer.

New Orleans Hornets…CRUSHED!!

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Man, I’ve watched a lot of NBA games in my life…but I have NEVER witnessed a beatdown like the one the Denver Nuggets put on the New Orleans Hornets tonight. I usually don’t watch blowouts, but the Nuggets beat the Hornets by 58pts!! I had to watch that!! I sent text messages out to my guys about the score and none of them believed me. The Hornets flat out quit tonight and that’s pretty much what this game boiled down to. Chris Paul had 4pts, 6 assists, 6 TO’s and didn’t shoot a single FT. That’s ridiculous. They should be embarrassed to even call themselves professionals. By the end of the 3rd quarter the arena was practically empty and the game went from being pathetic to outright funny. I actually started rooting for Denver to run up the score and beat the Hornets by as many points as they possibly could. New Orleans’ point totals by quarter looked like this: 15pts, 24pts, 11pts & 13pts. When the game was over, the 121-63 score tied the Hornets for the largest margin of defeat in playoff history. Chris Webber kept rounding the 58pt loss up to 60pts on NBA TV after the game and he said that the Nuggets beat New Orleans like they owed them money!! If ESPN dubbed Sundays Bulls/Celtics game an instant classic, then this one should be an instant classic as well. A 58pt playoff blowout is must see TV in my book.

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Tony Allen Receives Death Threats In Chicago

Security was beefed up last night in the United Center over death threats made against Tony Allen. This has been going Warriors Celtics Basketballon for some time now, I suspect stemming from an incident he was involved in almost 4 years ago outside a late night Chicago “grease spot” although reports have stated that it’s due to a separate, unrelated incident. He was acquitted of aggravated assault 2 years after that fight in ’05, but this is Chicago…and the streets don’t acquit you, they get you ’round here. So whoever is after Tony (reportedly a former associate) is obviously pretty serious about it (he’s been receiving threats since March) and the Celtics and the NBA are taking extra precautions to make sure nothing happens while the team is in town for the playoffs. Allen who is from the west side of Chicago and played at Crane HS knows what the deal is when it comes to having beef in Chicago, so I’m sure he knows to stay out of sight while he’s here. I guess you really can’t go home again!

Steph Curry To Go Pro

Steph CurryThis is the first time that I’ve written about Steph Curry on the blog. But after the news of him turning pro broke, I figured this was as good a time as any. There’s no question this kid has arguably the sweetest shooting stroke in college basketball. He comes from good stock, we all know who his dad is. The nation’s leading scorer this past season averaging almost 29ppg made the right decision because his stock couldn’t be any higher right now than it was during his breakout, almost-made-it-to-the-Final-Four season he had a year ago.

I’ve watched quite a few of his games over the past 2 seasons and I like what I see so far. My only complaint is that he relies a little too much on his jumper and he isn’t as aggressive going to the basket. I’m sure that aggressiveness will come once cats start taking it to his head in the league. I’m also concerned about his position. He ran the point this year at Davidson obviously in preparation to play PG in the NBA, but he’s not a true PG. Sure you can learn to play the position, but PG’s are born…not taught. Lastly, he isn’ that athletic so guarding the elite PG’s is going to be an issue as well. Yeah you can play zone in the league, but it’s still 99% man-to-man defense and I’m not sure if he can stay in front of guys like Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul. Ultimately, Steph Curry is a basketball player with a father who had a solid career in the league and he’s also good friends with LeBron James. Those things should bode well for him seeing success. I don’t see him being a star at the next level though, especially not playing the point. Derrick Rose he’s not. As I’m writing this, visions of JJ Redick are dancing in my head. You can find him on the end of the Orlando Magic bench. Sorry Steph, but this could be you. Good luck though; much success to you.

Jeremy Tyler – Prep Star To Drop Out Of HS To Play In Europe

jeremy-tyler-2It’s being reported that Jeremy Tyler, a 6’11” junior out of San Diego HS in California will drop out of school and play professionally in Europe. This is officially a WTF moment!! I’ve seen the kid play once in a nationally televised game on ESPNU against Renardo Sidney a few months ago. He did OK and certainly held his own against Sidney; I even liked the fact that he was talking a little crap to Renardo too. But dropping out of HS to play professional basketball in Europe is absolutely the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever heard!! I called out Brandon Jennings on this one and I’m calling out Jeremy Tyler now. What’s going on in the minds of these kids from California? Must be the high cost of living on the “Left Coast” that’s driving these kids to make these decisions…or Sonny Vaccaro.

After hearing about Brandon Jennings experience in the email that he sent and then watching his interview on HBO with Bryant Gumbel, I was sure that no kid in his right mind would ever take the international route again. But now we have a kid who verbally committed to play for Rick Pitino at Louisville passing on his senior year of HS to go pro. That means that he’s going to have to spend 2 years overseas before he can be eligible to come back home and play in the NBA. Who knows, because he’s a big man maybe it will be easier for him to have more success than Jennings had in Europe, but dropping out of HS to find out? Jeremy, I know that you live in San Diego, CA where the cost of living is one of the highest in the US, and I know that you’re not dropping out of HS to go work at McDonald’s…but seriously!!