The NBL recently announced plans to provide an alternative to college for US teenagers hoping to reach the NBA.
We looked at the potential impact this initiative would have on the NBL, NBA and college basketball scene with the biggest takeaway is that with the financial backing both the NCAA and the NBA have, it likely wouldn’t take long for one of them to look at ways to impede the NBL’s plans to steal players from college and make things costlier for the NBA.
As we thought, it didn’t take long for NBA commissioner, Adam Silver to respond.
Silver, who has recently acknowledged that the one-and-done rule isn’t working for the league, the NCAA or any of the affiliated parties now plans to provide an alternative to college for NBA prospects, a move seemingly triggered by the announcement of the NBL “Next Stars” program.
According to a report by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the plan devised by Silver will include the NBA building relationships with prospects in high school, providing them with skills for on and off the court. This alternate path to the NBA would also include a salary which would come from NBA teams or the G League.
This alternative plan for college mirrors much of the plan devised by the “Next Stars” program, with the added benefit of being powered by the NBA’s global machine.
Silver was clear at this year’s All-Star Weekend on that he feels the NBA needs to be the ones making the first contact with NBA prospects before they reach the league, filtering out shoe companies and college programs.
“Probably the most important issue is the development for the players before they come into the NBA,” Silver said.
“So now we’re at a point where the colleges no longer want them and the players seem a bit disillusioned with their semester-plus playing – I think it means we have to reexamine our policy.”
ESPN has reported that the NBA already has plans laid out which includes developing communications with elite high school basketball players and talks are also well underway between the NBA and respective parties which will need to approve the move, like the National Basketball Players’ Association.
Some aspects of the NBA’s plan are still unclear, but it’s thought that high school prospects receiving NBA-level coaching at tournaments or at summer camps would likely be part of it. Programs which provide advice on nutritional habits, improved practice regimens and help with life skills would also be included.
Many young high school players spend time with the USA Basketball program competing for the countries under-17 and under-19 teams. Introducing these educational programs in collaboration with USA Basketball is an avenue currently being discussed that would make a lot of sense.
This season the NBA implemented two-way contracts so players could earn up to $300,000 (if they spend the maximum amount of days (45) with the NBA club) while getting pro experience in the G League. Australian Mangok Mathiang is currently playing with the Charlotte Hornets on a two-way deal as is former Brisbane Bullets import Torrey Craig.
The report alluded to by Windhurst includes another version of this system where 18-year-olds could potentially play and earn a salary within the G League prior to being drafted.
“I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting them a little bit younger?” Silver stated during February’s All-Star weekend.
“Are we better off bringing them into the league when they’re 18 using our G League as it was designed to be as a Development League and getting them minutes on the court there? And there is also recognition that for some of these elite players, there is no question that they can perform in the NBA at 18 years old.”
Although being a little far-fetched, another idea in NBA circles which is clearly borrowed from Australia is the idea to create an Australian Institute of Sports type academy for each NBA team, an idea which already has a financial backer in Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban.
The idea being that instead of AAU teams, high school competition, and the NBA Draft, teams would build developmental academies that produce youth teams for 11-year-olds and up. A synergy would be developed between the youth squads and each NBA team. The affiliated NBA team would then have the rights to sign these players over other NBA teams when they are old enough to be drafted.
The NBA currently operates three academies in China, one in India and one in Senegal which are similar to that suggested as a college alternative.
Silver could present a plan within the next few months, though the league is planning to wait until after the Commission on College Basketball presents its report this spring.
The NBL is yet to respond to Silver’s announcement, however, it seems it may force the “Next Stars” program to fade away before it even gets started.