It’s time for the NBA to really focus on developing its development league. The NBA should really encourage each team to own one exclusive D-League team. The positives are well known as each team will be able to staff and fill the roster of their own minor league team and develop coaches and players in their own system. Many teams are already on track with this forward thinking but there are many who are still lagging behind.
After this is done I think the next step would be to change the draft. Right now you must be at least one year out of high school and 19 years old to enter the NBA draft. The typical route is to head to the NCAA for a year or two than enter the draft and start your pro career. What we have been seeing lately, however, is top talent playing overseas to earn a paycheck right from high school before entering the draft. Players such as Brandon Jennings and most recently Emmanuel Mudiay. What I am proposing is this:
Allow players to enter the NBA draft right out of high school. However, they must now wait at least three years to play in the big leagues. If they enter the NBA draft right out of high school they will be sent to the team’s D-League team to develop and mature for three years while earning a paycheck. Players can still head off to the NCAA to get a college degree but if they enter the draft before 3 years, they too will be sent to the D-League.
This is done for one major reason, to teach these young players how to be professionals before hitting the biggest stage in basketball. They will be able to earn a living while playing the game they love but won’t be in the spot light. They will be learning how to handle their finances, adjust to the travel and play against top young talent to mold their games and develop before entering the NBA.
The NBA is the only major professional sport in North America that has teenagers playing in it. The MLB has minor league baseball where even the top picks stay for a few years, the NHL has the AHL along with the NCAA and Junior hockey leagues developing their young talent and the NFL also has a 3 year wait time for their players before they can enter the league.
This is something that both the NBA and it’s players will benefit from.