Adam Silver Says NBA Has Put Playing Ball Regarding Dropping League’s Age Restriction To 18 In NBPA’s Corner

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Adam Silver Says NBA Has Put Playing Ball Regarding Dropping League’s Age Restriction To 18 In NBPA’s Corner


While the NBA is constantly moving and evolving, the changes the fans and the media get to see, are only the tip of the iceberg, if we compare it with what is being discussed behind close doors.

With a new collective bargaining agreement on its way, this discussion has also grown to include the lowering of the NBA’s age of entry from 19 to 18, according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver himself.

This would finally allow players to make the direct jump from high school to the NBA again, just like it once was before. 

The NBA allowed high school players to jump straight from high school to the league, until forging a compromise with the union in 2005.

This would make a drastic change from actual plans of Silver and his predecessor, the late David Stern, who initially wanted to extend the NBA age limit rule, making high school players wait two years before they could enter the draft. 

Preps-to-pro players have been overwhelmingly successful in the NBA; with the careers hall of famers and hall of famers to be like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James certainly not being affected by missing out on college. The rule change in 2005, was designed to strengthen the college game and make NCAA basketball resemble NCAA football. It also was put in place for economic and competitive reasons – when a player is drafted in the first round, he has guaranteed money for four-to-five years. In the case of high school players, NBA scouts simply aren’t given much history to work with to allow them to make an intelligent choice, and it therefore becomes an expensive gamble. 

With European players on the rise, a record-setting amount of foreign born players in the NBA, and the last four MVP awards being handed to European-born players, as well as the different rules in Europe, that allow teenagers to play in the pro leagues at ages 15 and 16 respectively, the NBA is almost forced to drop the age restriction again.

This, the endeavors of other league’s and programs such as Overtime, NIL deals in college and the G-League Ignite team, has led to Adam Silver putting the playing ball in the NBPA’s corner.

This is what he revealed to members of the media, during a press conference before the 2023 NBA Paris Game this past Thursday, upon asked by myself.


Len Werle: “You mentioned common rules earlier; my question is protected to another level. Europe, maybe the Overtime endeavors, the NBA G-League Ignite Team; NIL Deals. Has the league thought about dropping the age restriction?“

Adam Silver: “We have. And I’ve talked about it before. I’ve said in previous occasions, when I first became Commissioner in 2014, I actually thought the minimum age, which is 19, we should raise it, given some of the developmental issues of our players.

I think then, as time went on, and college basketball began to change for various reasons and now including NIL Deals and other issues in the U.S. And also the NCAA put together a commission led by former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, and she then formerly came to the league and the players association – we can only make a change during the agreement – and said, on behalf of college basketball, ‘we believe the sport of basketball and college basketball would be better off if you changed the minimum age to 18 from 19’.

Ultimately, I think that’s a close call, but we, the NBA have proposed to our player’s association that we lower the age from 19 to 18, and now it’s all about to speak for themselves, but that’s in collective bargain right now.

I’ve come to think that’s the right approach, as interestingly, and we’ve talked about the international players before, who have a very different development system outside the United States. When I had the opportunity to meet with players we were referencing before, some of the truly great International players, they chuckle when we’re talking about 19 vs 18, because many of them were professionals when they were 14…

…This is why I think, although there is negatives to it too, I think we’d be better off going to 18 at this point.”


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