Breaking Down the NBA’s One and Done Rule

The NBA implemented the infamous “one and done” rule in 2006. It has created some controversy with many people saying it is ruining the collegiate game due to players abusing the student-athlete term, along with dwindling the competition level.

By: Troy Sawyer | Sunday Nov 08, 2015

The NBA implemented the infamous “one and done” rule in 2006, which states that the minimum age to enter the NBA draft is 19, along with being one year away from the player’s high school graduation. It has created some controversy with many people saying it is ruining the collegiate game due to players abusing the student-athlete term, along with dwindling the competition level.

These players are forced to play in college because it gives them the best chance to be drafted due to the NBA rule. After 9 years of the rule being implemented, it is time to evaluate how the one and done rule has affected all parties involved.

The Players

If freshmen decide to end their collegiate career for the pros, they should hope for a first round draft pick, otherwise, another year of school would be beneficial. A player has used the one and done rule successfully if they become one of the 30 players who get drafted in the first round.

Players who are drafted in the first round are rewarded with a three-year guaranteed contract. Players who are drafted in the second round or undrafted receive no guarantee and have to play for a contract during training camp. Those players, if unsigned, either fall into the D-League, head to international play, or just flat out drop from professional basketball all together.

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Since 2010, 63 freshmen have decided to forgo their college eligibility and declare for the draft. 49 of those freshmen were drafted in the first round with a three-year guaranteed contract (78%). The other 14 players were drafted in the second round or undrafted that includes 4 players from junior college. These 14 players, which include the likes of Ricky Ledo and Cliff Alexander, either received a contract during training camp or became a free agent who went to the D League or disappeared from the public eye.

These 14 players made a poor decision to declare. Most of these players could have benefited from another year in college but it is impossible to know if it would have made a difference. These players must have thought that they were going to be drafted in the first round or else they wouldn’t have declared.

There could be exceptions to the junior college players who were just looking to get drafted in general. The freshmen either over-evaluated themselves or received false information about their draft projections.

Now we look at how the freshmen draftees have performed in the NBA.

(Disclaimer: 22 of the 49 players were drafted in the last two years so it’s tough to give a fair assessment on how they’ll perform in the league but most of them have great potential.)

Stars: Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins.

The One-and-done rule has produced some great talents with these fine players. Anthony Davis is arguably one of the best players in the NBA at this moment. DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond are some of the best centers active with Drummond having an exceptional start to the season. Kyrie Irving is a superstar in his own right with his incredible speed, crossover moves, and long-range ability. John Wall and Bradley Beal have become one of the best 1-2 combos in the league, helping the Wizards reach the playoff in consecutive years.

Rising Stars: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor.

All of these players haven’t played a full 2 years in the NBA but their potential is scary to think about. There are players such as Karl-Anthony Towns, D’angelo Russell, Justice Winslow, and Julius Randle who can find themselves in this category by this season’s end or next.

Role Players: Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel, Tony Wroten, Tobias Harris, Enes Kanter, Brendon Knight, Tristan Thompson, Avery Bradley, Derrick Favors, Hassan Whiteside.

These players have found themselves a nice little gig in the NBA. All of these players play important roles for their teams.

Busts: Ricky Ledo, Grant Jerrett, Quincy Miller, Marquis Teague, Josh Selby, Keith Gallon, Daniel Orton, Archie Goodwin.

These players made some poor decisions. Either they were drafted in the first round and never fit into the nba lifestyle or they were drafted in the second round and were never able to assert themselves in the competitive league.

Many players that have come from the one and done rule have been solid contributors in the NBA.


The NBA has successfully used this rule to their advantage. The NBA and its scouts are allowed to evaluate a ton of young and talented players while they compete in a league such as the NCAA.

The NBA organization is able to receive solid contributors in the league relatively quickly. Of course, there are players who bust and never live to their potential. It happens all of the time in the NBA, regardless of whether they were college freshmen or played all 4 years in collegiate competition.

The League’s money is being spent more soundly due to seeing these players perform for a year before they declare for the draft. It is very difficult to evaluate players and scouts will never be 100% right. The NBA has made a living off this rule as they receive exceptional talents within relatively quick time.

The NCAA and the Evaluation Period

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The NCAA was dealt a bad hand when this rule was implemented in 2006. There is very little the NCAA can do because players are almost forced to play collegiate ball for one year before they declare to the NBA. It has cost the collegiate game, as many talented players have left the NCAA with reduced competition.

Can you imagine how awesome March Madness would be with the likes of Beal, Davis, Okafor, Parker, and Wiggins still playing? With all this talent in the NCAA, good players would be dispersed to different teams and in theory would make the NCAA a hell of a lot more competitive.

The NCAA is allowing the NBA to use them as a developmental league for players who will inevitably be drafted. Many people say that the tradition of college basketball is changing because of these rules as it puts the coaches at a disadvantage because they will only have a successful star for one year.

Coaches, such as Kentucky’s John Calipari, have thrived with the addition of these rules because he recruits 4 or 5 top freshmen to play that declare for the upcoming draft. He just continues this trend over and over again in hopes to help players get ready for the NBA draft while giving him a great chance to win during March Madness.

What the NCAA can control is its constraint on the players who try to abuse the one and done rule. The NCAA’s evaluation period does not provide student-athletes the best resources to make the appropriate decision on their future. The players are forced between the NBA and NCAA rules as they assess their NBA potential.

The NCAA states that a student-athlete will lose their college eligibility if they agree to be represented by an agent. The NCAA also states that a student-athlete can retain their eligibility one time if they enter the NBA draft and withdraw their name from the list by May 8th.

Most one and done hopefuls make a deep run into March Madness that usually lasts until April. This gives the student-athlete approximately three weeks to decide their future without having an agent to help. Not only that, but the athletes are not allowed to tryout with NBA teams if they are a full-time student and would miss classes to attend the tryout.

This restriction seems very strange since the NCAA allows student-athletes to miss class to interview for jobs outside of professional athletics. All of these restrictions are occurring while 16 NBA teams are in the playoffs and they usually can’t spend the time to evaluate players two months before a draft. Some of these players receive evaluations that can be untrue by the time the draft comes around.

The evaluators might say, “we think this particular player could be a late-first, early-second round draft pick,” but the difference between the first and second round in the draft is enormous. A first round pick is a three-year guaranteed contract while a second round pick has no guarantee of a contract.

These players are given roughly three weeks to decide whether they want to declare for the draft or retain their college eligibility while they cannot hire a agent, miss class to tryout for the NBA, and aren’t given fair assessments to their NBA potential. All the while the draft is two months away and NBA teams cannot spend time because they are in the playoff picture. The NCAA is not allowing their student-athletes the proper resources to make the best decision they can make for their future.


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There have been many discussions about changing the minimum age to 20 to enter the NBA draft. This could be helpful as it would provide the NCAA more stability in their league, the players another year to develop, and the NBA another year to evaluate players. It would also help the NCAA’s reputation because the term “one and done” would disappear. The NBA will more than likely keep the age limit to 19 however, because it is benefiting them right now. They are able to receive great players quickly while keeping the league young and competitive.

The one and done rule has proved successful for most players who have decided to declare for the NBA draft. The biggest problem is the NCAA’s rules and regulations that constraint the player from making the best decision possible due to a lack of resources, advice, and time. The NCAA needs to make their rules more lenient to allow the student-athletes to make an appropriate decision on their future.

The best solution would be to allow students to withdraw their name from the NBA draft much later than the May 8th deadline. It should be moved about a month later so that student-athletes will no longer be in school and they can focus on NBA tryouts and the evaluations they receive. The only problem with this solution is that it puts the NCAA coaches in a bind because they will not know if their student is either leaving or staying. The coaches might not be able to give top recruits scholarships and playing time if a potential draftee decides to retain their college eligibility.

There are no perfect solutions in this maze of rules and regulations between the NBA and NCAA but some rules should be changed to help players make the best decision they can for their career.

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