Dear basketball fans,
Great news. The NBA is getting rid of the one and done rule. (Unofficially).
I have a theory regarding the NBA’s plan that was all but confirmed thanks to this Bleacher Report article regarding the NBA’s link to high school stars via Gatorade.
If you’re like me and think the one and done rule ruined college basketball and added to the disparity of talent in the NBA, keep reading.
But first, some background:
- Little over a year ago, Gatorade became the official sponsor of the NBA Developmental League, changing the name from the D-League to the… G-League. The G-League has been growing since its inception in 2001 and is expected to have an affiliate for each professional franchise by 2020. Once a full 30 teams are fielded, the NBA will have its own uniform minor league system in comparison to the MLB’s.
- Gatorade also recently paired with Twitter to broadcast high school games on the platform. Those games included the teams with high flying talent such as Zion Williamson, a future Duke Blue Devil.
- The NCAA has benefitted financially from the “one and done” rule because it forces all of the nation’s top talent to funnel through the middle man and prop up college basketball competition. They don’t miss out on marketing stars such as LeBron, Kobe, or Dwight Howard (he was a big deal once) for nationally broadcast games or jersey sales.
- The NCAA has not benefitted from the decline in rivalry and quality of play over the years since the one and done rule became enforced in 2005. Not a single game is must-see TV until March. The college basketball scene is a revolving door of talent and unjust hype leading to busts in the NBA.
- Also, you may have heard, there’s quite the large FBI investigation into college basketball’s behind the scenes operations involving the top coaches and schools for paying players to ball at whichever university.
I mean, everybody knew college players were receiving benefits. It’s a broken record calling for college athletes to get paid. Big brands have infiltrated amateur sports and now they are moving into high school competition with this Gatorade and Twitter partnership, among others.
The ever-evolving world of streaming has made it easier for any niche production to be made available to the masses. A live trivia app can reach 2 million users at 9pm every weekday, and now high school games can reach any demographic through the free platform of Twitter.
What does that do? Well, it develops the personality and fandom of top talents like Zion Williamson. Mr. Williamson had already become a viral sensation by sending his opponents home on posters or in body bags after each and every 360-windmill dunk he puts down for the fans on Instagram.
Don’t get me started on highlight culture.
The nation’s top high school talent can now be seen and accessed in an easier way than ever before. The fandom can grow earlier than in previous generations.
This could mean a few things.
It could affect the paradigm of three levels of basketball. This system could continue to prop up the fame and following of said stars, following them to the high school-NBA gap year where they are money-mules for the NCAA. The increased fan base and awareness of their name will drive games to be must-see TV again. Imagine if Lavar didn’t pull Melo out of high school. We could have watched Melo v Williamson in high school and turned that shit into the Rocky saga. Volume 1 and 2 in high school, follow that to college where of course their teams will be scheduled against each other. Then they move on to the league with an arch-rival and history to back it and everybody wins.
What could also happen, is in 2020, when the G-League is established in all 30 NBA franchises, the one and done goes bye-bye. Now with Gatorade broadcasting high school stars to the masses, they can develop the fan’s connection and familiarity to the stars. The G-League can act as the bridge and middle-man for high school and the league which really makes everybody win.
Except for the NCAA, which deserves to lose at this point.
Gatorade propels high school kids to notoriety, then pushes them into the G-League directly out of high school. Or at the least, opens the door. They benefit from having athletes that are known to the public for their on-court product, driving viewership and interaction from the fanbase. The athletes win because they can get paid for playing games against arguably better talent, and the NBA can protect against tanking and the “bust-dilemma”. The quality of play improves because athletes can consistently develop without the pressure to chase the quick payday by leaving college early and tanking may become less of an issue because the pool of quality players available will go on the rise.
That’s why the Bleacher Report linked above is so important. Adam Silver is acknowledging that the Association will establish a structure to “help them develop both on and off the court.”
This is exactly the development the NBA needs in order to combat the rising issues with the NCAA and dammit they’ll look good doin’ it. I swear, the NBA is constantly ahead on the game with these things.
Adam Silver is Gold.