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Saving the NBA and D-League by eliminating One and Done rule

Nick Sannicandro March 16, 2013 Around the NBA, Draft 8 Comments

Lets all be honest here, its a fairly safe bet that most of us reading today have never watched a single NBA D-League game, nor do most NBA fans really care about the D-League.  Can you name more than three teams without the assistance of Wikipedia? How about a key player in the league? There are no legitimate websites or news networks that cover the D-league because lets face it, it has fallen well short of its potential and the public interest in the league is evident with the lack of any relevant coverage of the games.

When the NBA announced just a few short years ago that it was expanding the D-League and had intentions of utilizing the league as a “Minor League system” of sort, I was very excited. I am a baseball fan and I will admit that I sometimes enjoy watching minor league games more than I do major league games; partly due to the fact that the kids in the minors care more about the game and you can see quality ball for great prices. In the minors you can see the future of the MLB with a more intimate and inclusive experience for fans. I saw potential for this in the NBADL with its “new” commitment to the league from the parent company.

Since then, little has changed with the NBADL. The league is still littered with irrelevant players that will never see an NBA floor, the function of using the league as a place to groom rookies has failed miserably thus far, with the NBADL becoming a place where potential role players go to die, never to make any noise in the league again.

 How many times have the Celtics signed a guy from the NBADL who were putting up good numbers, only to come here and look out of place? Has the D-League helped the development of Fab Melo’s post game? Remember Stephane Lasme? Greg Stiemsma? Chris Johnson? Oliver Lafayette?  All players who had some success in the NBADL that became vastly overwhelmed with outrageous expectations by fans due to this. Have you heard from any of these “top D-League” players since?

So what can be done to change this troubling trend? Well, to that we must look at a different rule the NBA has put into place in recent years. The “one and done” rule as it has been unofficially re-named forces players that normally would have entered the NBA Draft right out of High School to choose between spending a year in college or playing internationally before becoming eligible for the NBA Draft.

Lets face it, the rule is flawed at best. Are there any players that we know of that followed this rule and became a better player because of it? Did they earn their degree in that one year? Did they really become NBA ready after one year? Have NBA teams been able to weed out the Shaun Livingston’s of the world out from this rule? The rule forces players that really are not interested in school to take up a valuable spot that otherwise would have been used by someone who could really use the class or cares about the subject matter, all for the sake of basketball. It makes a mockery of the education system and the concept of scholarships at the very least.

The players that skirted this system have managed to find a bit of success for themselves with Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler the most notable names of the bunch who managed to play overseas for a season before entering the draft. But the NBA has failed to recognize that they are missing out on a major opportunity to develop its NBA D-League by revamping the draft rules. So in a basketball discussion with a friend recently, a revamped rule change came about:

Under the new NBA Draft rules,  High School players would have the option of:

1.) entering a college program for two seasons before becoming eligible for the NBA Draft  

2.) choosing to enter the NBA Draft out of High School. Those players would be required to spend the entire first season in their drafting teams NBADL affiliate with a standard rookie contract being in place (close to NBA league minimum) . Should the player be called up from the NBADL the player will have a revamped contract similar to how the NFL pays its rookies based on draft selection. Those not called up after year one would then become a free agent, free to sign with any NBA or NBADL team.

The proposed rule change would allow High School players the chance to still make a living playing under the standard NBA rookie contract, all while playing in a more NBA-style program. It would give motivation to the player to progress and play hard to earn their call up. Teams would likely spend more time focusing on the operations of their sister team, getting more involved with coaching changes, game plans, and other aspects of the organization all in the name of developing their new investments. This would also give teams an out clause on a draft bust by being given the opportunity to sniff out a bust and not calling that player up, releasing them from the responsibility of being stuck with a long big money contract on a bust. This would also give the NBADL a bump in relevance in the eye of the public with some of the games premier future talent facing off against one another.

How exciting would it have been to see Brandon Jennings, Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, or Kobe Bryant play at this level before they became a part of the public eye? Would we have seen that Sebastian Telfair wasn’t “The Next Big Thing” long in advance?  The rule also would save players who had no interest in graduating from college the potential career ending injury, or at the least an injury that will cost that player millions in the draft (see: Nerlens Noel). Forcing a highly talented player to play for free, potentially ruining their career is unjust. This option gives the players a chance to make some money all while boosting the popularity of the NBA D-League.  On the contrast, players who truly were interested in college would at the very least get a real education, having to pass four semesters of class rather than just one and a half as currently constituted.

The NCAA will never pay its players in any sport, and with its rules nazi’s violating players on petty technicalities (which also in turn cost the player millions in the draft See: Shabazz Muhammed , Myck Kabongo) the NCAA knows it has players by the ankle and can do what it pleases.  The Kabongo investigation cost the Texas star half his season and a drop likely into the second round all while the NCAA tried to find anything it could to justify his suspension. Muhammed was held for a handful of games in a similar situation only to be cleared after he had already missed the games, costing his team one of the largest drops out of the Top 25 in NCAA history. Both players would have likely entered the draft and had been a top 20 pick had this petty rule not been in place.

So in a wrap up, lets look at the facts should this be put into place. The rule would protect teams from investing in a draft bust, it would protect the player from a career ending injury while playing for free, it would also protect the player from having millions stolen from them by the NCAA rule nazi’s. And above all, it would save the integrity of the concept of scholarships by using them on players that will actually attend and put effort into classes.

The only groups that lose in this proposal are international teams that latched on to the likes of Brandon Jennings and such,  and the NCAA who already make millions off the names of its players yet refuses to pay them. It is not the NBA’s responsibility to pad the pockets of schools or international teams. It IS the responsibility of the NBA to protect its teams from being stuck with bad investments. So the NBA can kill two birds with one stone in this move, protect the teams and boost its D-League program, a solid business decision to say the least.

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  • Nathan

    good idea, good read

  • eddysamson

    Uhhh why exactly did you lump Steimsma in that group of players? From what I remember he stepped it up and played as well as we needed him to. And the general consensus on this site over the summer was that it sucked we lost him…

  • http://twitter.com/Moto47_Racing Nick Sannicandro

    because Stiemsma came here as the NBADL Def. POY and people mistook that as him being a good defender, really all he was, was a shot blocker he struggled mightily at times on D got overpaid by Min and will be out of the league shortly

    • Screamin Jay

      your analysis sucks. Steamer filled a big need for us and if he plays in the right system he can be a good player. Who are you to say he will be out of the league shortly? He plays hoops a lot better than you analyze basketball, judging by what you’ve written here in the past.

      • http://twitter.com/Moto47_Racing Nick Sannicandro

        as I said before…a player that fans vastly overrated because of his “credentials” his weakness’ were hidden due to the fact that he had one of the best defensive players of our generation covering for his mistakes. I mean…he HAD to have been something special right? Thats why so many teams were knocking down his door while he was in Turkey and the NBADL…..righttt

        • Celticsfanatic

          None of this is true. If Rondo can be considered one of the leagues best defenders just because of his stealing ability, when it reality opposing guards blew by him this year, Stiemsma can be considered a good defender. You act like shot blocking is such a useless tool, when in reality it is a huge part of protecting the paint. Not every guy is going to be a five star defender like Garnett, usually a defense is comprised of a bunch of players with certain skills. Stiemsma’s ability as a shot blocker brings a lot to the table. He also has a nice outside shot, good hands and awareness and a decent post game. I bet the Celtics would be a lot better with him on the team.

        • Screamin Jay

          Steamer had a pretty serious problem with depression while in college, which affected both his playing and his academic performance. A big reason nobody noticed him and why he didn’t get drafted and went to play overseas. When you get that kind of start, getting to the NBA is much tougher.

          Steamer, in my opinion, was a better basketball player than Perk. All that Perk had over Steamer was a nasty scowl, but in all other aspects Steamer had Perk beat. I love Perk, would love to see him back on the Celts in the right position for the right dollars, but I would rather have Steamer because he brings a nice offensive shot/touch, shot blocking, and hands that aren’t made of stone.

  • http://twitter.com/Moto47_Racing Nick Sannicandro

    I chuckle at the fact that of all the material here everyone has a hair across their panty line that I threw Stiemsma under the bus in the article and have lost the whole point of the article. The fact of the matter on Stiemsma is that he went from being a star in the NBADL to a junk time player in the NBA, there is no debating that. That is NOT a success story, a success story is Jeremy Lin, only problem is there havent been any other stories like that. So if your going to debate on here take off your green goggles and look at the entire premise of the article. 7 comments defending Stiemsma who was mentioned in ONE sentence was not the intent of the article