NBA Lockout: Why the NBA Needs to Adapt a Higher Minimum Age in the New CBA

Joe UnderhillCorrespondent IIISeptember 1, 2011

LeBron and Kobe, two of the best high-school to pro athletes.
LeBron and Kobe, two of the best high-school to pro athletes.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NBA players and owners have been meeting trying to save the NBA season from the lockout. There are a lot of issues both sides need to sift through, and it doesn't appear there will be an agreement any time soon. 

Among the many issues the players and owners need to sort through is the age requirement to play in the NBA. In 2005 the NBA decided players needed to wait one year after graduating to enter the NBA. It has been rumored the owners and David Stern want to see the age requirement extended, possibly to 20 or 21. 

I'm in favor of increasing the age requirement for entering the NBA. First players who come from high-school straight to the league take longer to reach their potential. Yes there are exceptions, Dwight Howard, Amar'e Stoudemire, and LeBron James to name a few. However, the majority take a couple of years to learn at the NBA level before they are ready to become All-Stars. Players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Shawn Kemp, Tracy McGrady, and Tyson Chandler to name a few. 

There have been 42 players selected in the NBA draft, three of those players number one overall. Of those 42 players, only eight of been selected as All-Stars. While it is true three of the most recent MVPs in the league have been former high school to pro players (James '09, '10, Bryant '08), the majority struggle at the NBA level.

Why are there more Kwame Browns (No. 1 overall in 2001) and Eddy Currys (No. 4 overall in 2001) than LeBron James and Dwight Howards? Simple basketball is a game which requires more than just athleticism. Basketball requires skills which are developed. Quite simply there are very few high-schools, and fewer players who are able to achieve the level of development necessary to be successful at the professional level. 

I think the quality of play at the NBA level would be better severed if the league requires players entering to be three years removed from their high school graduating class. This does not force players to go to college. They can choose to play overseas (a la Brandon Jennings), or they could play in the NBA's D-league, or the CBL.

The other reason most players struggle coming straight from high school to the NBA is the dramatic difference in the quality of talent they are playing against. In high school they don't have to be fundamentally sound. They don't need good footwork as a big, or good ball handling as a wing. They are athletically so superior, they don't need to use any skill to have success. Playing for two or three years at a D-I school will expose them to an increased competition,  and help develop their skills so they can be successful when they turn pro. 

I think the NBA needs to increase the age requirement for admittance into the league, it's for the good of the players and for the good of the game.