NBA to lower draft age to 18

Story posted 6 days ago in

In a shocking move on Monday morning, the National Basketball Association announced that it was “expected” to lower the NBA Draft minimum age limit from 19 to 18.

This new rule change would most likely not go into effect until the 2024 draft, meaning that the recruiting classes of 2025 and 2026 will have to pay close attention and make a decision between college and the professional league.

Think about it this way: in the Basketball Association of America’s inaugural draft in 1947, the Pittsburgh Ironmen selected forward Clifton McNeely with its first-round pick.

McNeely, born in 1919, was 28 years old when he was drafted-- a full ten years older than his contemporary counterparts could be if the new draft rules go into effect.

The new age changes would most likely overturn what has become known for professional basketball as the “one-and-done rule.”

In 2005, the NBA implemented a rule stating that in order to be eligible for the draft, a player must compete in one collegiate season, meaning that phenomena like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant would have to have gone to college, played abroad, or spent the summer in the G League Ignite.

It’s also important to note that Bryant was 17 when he was drafted and required his parents to sign with him. James was 18. 

For comparison, the draft ages among the other big three leagues vary wildly.

The National Football League has no minimum age requirement, Major League Baseball has a minimum age of 17, and the National Hockey League has both a minimum and a limit (18-20 years old).

However, unlike the NBA, the other three leagues don’t require prospective athletes to spend a season on campus before declaring for the draft.

With this rule, college basketball is going to be the program that will suffer the most, losing the Zion Williamsons and Derrick Roses of the sport straight to the league.

Lowering the draft age puts more pressure on these young men to make a decision between education and the potential of living out their dreams and making a profit.

Of course, Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) contracts in collegiate sports can guarantee that a student-athlete is getting at least a percentage off of endorsements or appearances on social media. However, NBA contracts are much more appealing to most athletes than NIL.

Additionally, the correlation between mental health and athletics has been a considerable discussion in the past few years, especially with professional athletes bowing out of events due to their mental health.

Most 18-year-olds are stressed out enough as it is choosing a college, but that seems relatively insufficient compared to entering a draft to determine which professional team now owns your rights.

The draft changes are all still up in the air as of right now. If the age is lowered, expect a more talented professional league and a hurting collegiate program.

Adrianna Gallucci is a first-year student majoring in journalism. To contact her, email amg7989@psu.edu.