2021-and-done? NBA draft eligibility rules could change after 2021, per report

Adam Silver’s NBA office is considering a massive change to the NBA draft. (AP Photo)

Change to the NBA draft’s eligibility rules isn’t coming for at least three years, but after that? Maybe.

The NBA sent a memo to teams on Friday indicating that the league’s eligibility rules, in place since 2006, could see a shift as early as 2021, according to a report from ESPN’s Zach Lowe. While the memo doesn’t specifically mention the one-and-done rule, but reading between the lines makes it a pretty simple conclusion.

The memo’s purpose seems to be to give teams a heads-up that the value of their draft picks could dramatically change one year, or at least to assure them that such a change won’t come in at least the next two offseasons.

The memo serves as something of an advisory to teams that might think about trading away future first-round picks in the lead-up to Thursday’s draft. “As we approach the NBA Draft on June 21,” the memo states, “and the increase in trade activity that often accompanies it, please be reminded of this ongoing review and the possibility that the eligibility rules could change” between 2021 and 2024.

When could the NBA change the one-and-done rule?

While the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement runs until 2024, there’s nothing stopping the league from sitting down with the players’ union and agreeing to change the rule before their next big negotiation.

That means such a change could come anywhere between 2021 and 2024, it all depends on how quickly the two parties can figure out what they want. Per the report, the NBA will discuss the idea again during the league’s annual meetings during the Summer League in Las Vegas.

 

What would happen if the NBA ditched one-and-dones?

Well, for starters, the value of picks in the next draft following the change would immediately skyrocket. Just think about what would happen if top high school prospects like R.J. Barrett, Nassir Little and Zion Williamson could jump into this year’s draft, right next to DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic. It would suddenly be a lot pricier to trade up to the top of the draft. That effect would probably happen the second the one-and-done system is ended.

And, just saying, the change could come in time for a certain high-schooler out there whose dad knows a thing or two about leaping to the NBA.

Looking further out, the NBA would probably try to move toward a more developmental approach for young talent coming right out of high school. As Lowe reports, the NBA has long wished for the G League to become a true minor league system akin to MLB or the NHL, but three teams still don’t even have G League affiliates. Making high school players eligible would give teams much more ability to shape young talent when they’re still developing.

The NBA has taken steps in recent years to beef up the G League, and has reportedly even considered adding a third round to the draft to help fill its ranks.

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