The NBA is expected to undo a rule that has been in place since 2005, lowering the age limit for the NBA Draft from 19 to 18, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions. The NBA and NBA Players Association can amend this rule as soon as 2024. Prior to 2005, the league saw players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard make the jump from high school to the NBA as 18-year-olds. With a Dec. 15 mutual opt-out date looming for the NBA and the NBPA under their current CBA, let’s break down the new draft age limit, why it matters and what it means for upcoming prospects.
How does current NBA Draft age limit work?
Currently, the NBA requires any player entering the NBA Draft to be at least 19 years old during the calendar year the draft is held and at least one NBA season removed from his high school graduation or what would have been his graduation if he hasn’t graduated. That means players can go one-and-done after high school, but that one year could be spent in college, abroad or even the G League Ignite.
What would be the new reduced NBA Draft age limit?
The new age limit would take it down a year, allowing 18-year-olds into the NBA and foregoing the requirement they must be at least one year removed from their high school graduation. That would allow players to go from high school — or the Overtime Elite league or the G League Ignite — straight to the NBA.
When would the new NBA Draft age limit come into effect?
As early as 2024, which means we could have the mythical double draft that year, where the best players from the 2024 high school class are in the same draft as the 2023 high school class and all other college upperclassmen.
What does this mean for Bronny, Bryce James?
It doesn’t seem like it’s going to mean much for Bronny James. He’s currently in the 2023 high school class, so if the first year back under the new age limit is 2024, then he’ll still have to play in college for one season before entering the NBA Draft. Bryce James is currently in the 2025 high school class, so he seems to be in a position to make the leap from high school straight to the NBA just like his father, LeBron James.
Could this eliminate G League Ignite team?
I wonder if the NBA tries to sell separate media rights for the G League if they still use Ignite somehow, maybe in attracting international talent as they’ve done or as a landing spot for the player who doesn’t want to go to college but also doesn’t want to enter the draft yet because his stock isn’t good enough, allowing him a year to build up his resume.
Will NIL help schools still recruit top players from high school?
A majority of players with a first-round grade are going to skip college entirely. It’s not much different than your best college freshmen in the current system.
Those with a second-round grade or on the fringe of getting drafted will have a harder decision to make. Will it make sense to go to college and try to improve stock while also getting paid? Or is it better to develop on an NBA bench or in the G League and start your NBA clock earlier?
The hit rate of the first few classes could dictate this. How much money schools are able to offer in name, image and likeness deals could also play a role. We’re still very early in the NIL era. It’s possible what schools are able to pay continues to climb or it could be that the biggest contributors do not see enough return on investment to continue offering the kind of deals we’ve seen thus far.
What mental health injury designation covers
This would undoubtedly be a big step forward for the league and its players in both shedding a light on mental health issues and also substantiating that talk by giving players the time, space and opportunity to address them. We shall see what the actual changes will be and what is afforded players, but even the willingness to discuss something like this should be an acknowledgment that the status quo is insufficient.
How does the NBA CBA work?
The CBA is the governing manual for the entire league, negotiated between the league and its players’ union, the NBPA. It determines how every part of the NBA works, from the draft to free agency to pretty much everything in between.
When does the current NBA CBA expire?
The current CBA runs through the 2023-24 season, but the NBA and the NBPA have the ability to opt-out by Dec. 15.
(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)