Let’s make this as simple as possible: The NBA has absolutely no reason — at least not a good one — to increase the minimum age for entry to the draft. Such a move would be completely arbitrary and totally unnecessary, causing needless harm and financial distress to NBA-ready 19-year-olds who want to begin their careers.
It’s easy for NBA Commissioner David Stern to push for a bump to 20 years old. It’s easy for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to go a step further, proposing that players be ineligible until three years after their high school class graduates. Stern and Cuban are grown men who have already pocketed millions of dollars; they couldn’t care less about keeping money out of a young adult’s pocket.
Never mind that some of the NBA’s top stars entered the league straight out of high school, players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. Never mind that young talent has continued to flourish since 2005, when the NBA instituted the age limit and sparked a wave of “one and done” college freshmen stars such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and John Wall. Never mind that players in virtually every sport except football (for relatively obvious reasons) can begin pro careers immediately after high school.
Cuban’s line of reasoning is particularly irksome — the paternalistic notion that the NBA must protect youngsters from themselves. Kids leave college all the time, whether to take a job, take a breather or take a chance. But somehow, if you’re skilled at playing hoops, you can’t be trusted to make your own decisions.