The 1-n-Done rule 10 Years Later

Ten years ago, the NBA announced that players will have to be the age of 19 and one-year removed from high school in order to enter the NBA Draft. When David Stern and the NBAPA agreed to the rule in the 2005 CBA deal, their intentions were to elevate the talent level in the NBA, forcing players to play better competition before being evaluated for the NBA Draft.

While Stern called the rule a ″business decision″, many thought he was keeping young players from making money. Jermaine O′Neal, who was drafted out of high school in 1996 along with Kobe Bryant, suggested that the rule had a racial connotation to it.

“As a black guy, you kind of think [race is] the reason why it’s coming up. You don’t hear about it in baseball or hockey. To say you have to be 20, 21 to get in the league, it’s unconstitutional. If I can go to the U.S. Army and fight the war at 18 why can’t you play basketball for 48 minutes?”
— Jermaine O'Neal, 2005 via

Looking back after ten years, has the ″1-n-done″ rule helped the NBA? It all depends on who you ask. I applaud the NBA and David Stern for trying to elevate the game′s talent level but the rule has not served its purpose. The last great NBA draft class was 13 years ago, when LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh all were drafted in the top 5. Since then the NBA draft has been average at best with one or two great players.

What the 1-n-done rule has done is create a barrier before getting into the league. Most players choose to go to college for one season, which often leads to them skipping classes after they are eligible for the rest of the season. Ben Simmons, the league′s #1 pick, shared his thoughts on the NCAA and his college experience, calling it a waste of time. Simmons has been on NBA scouts′ radar since his freshman year in high school. When I got the chance to speak with Simmons his final year at Montverde Academy in 2015, I could tell that he was ready for the NBA then. He didn′t need a year of college basketball, especially when LSU didn′t make the NCAA Tournament. Essentially it was a waste of time for him.

Stern said the rule does not force them to go to school and players can choose different paths. Brandon Jennings is a prime example of choosing a different route. Jennings spent a year overseas after high school before going 10th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, becoming the first player in the 1-n-done era to be drafted after skipping college. Jennings choice was also due to him struggling to meet academic requirements to play at Arizona, where he planned to play his college ball.

No matter which route a player choose, it will have it′s negatives and positives. Both Jennings and Simmons still manage to reach their ultimate goal of reaching the NBA. For the fan though, has the 1-n-done rule increased the quality of basketball?

Essentially no. There is a wide gap between the elites and the rest of the NBA. Out of the 25 players on my NBA Five Percenter list, which list the top 5 players at each position, eight are 1-n-done players (Carmelo Anthony spent one season at Syracuse before the rule was created). According to a study by, in 2014 only 24% of 1-n-done players were considered ″stars″ in the league, 27% were contributors, and 37% were role players, and the last 12% are flops. Those percentages are not bad but as a consumers, I would like to see more stars than contributors. And of course everyone can not be a star but the rule should not be producing more contributors and role players.

In this era of the NBA, where super teams are being orchestrated, the talent pool isn′t deep enough to make more than three super teams in the NBA. The Warriors and Cavaliers each have at least three players that are a top-five talent in the NBA, no other teams in the NBA has that kind of star power. In the 80s, the Lakers, Celtics, Rockets, Sixers, Sonics, and Pistons all were the super powers of the NBA. Lakers and Celtics were the two that stood at the top of the mountain, but the rest of the league was not to far behind. It was a great balance that created the best era of NBA basketball.

Allowing player to jump into the league after one year of college doesn′t help deepen that talent pool, it just oversaturate it. Teams like the 76ers are filled with talented 1-n-done players, but are not producing wins. Its taking teams longer to develop talent because most of the players are lacking the fundamentals that are generally learned in college, another issue that is plaguing the NBA.

Commissioner Silva has publicly stated that he would like to see the age limit jump to 20 which will mean kids will have to be two-years removed from high school before they jump to the NBA. Whether it will happen has yet to be determined

This is another opportunity for the NBA to take advantage of their farm system, the NBA D-League. Carmelo Anthony thinks the league should invest more into the D-League to encourage players to stay in the states to better their game instead of going overseas. Most players look at the D-League as a ″punishment″ and choose not to take that route, reason why top players like Simmons go to college instead of choosing the D-League. If players do not want to waste their time by going to college – and if the NBA does not want to make them stay longer than a couple semester so they can actually learn something – then the NBA should present the D-League as the best alternative or option for players coming out of high school.

After 10 years, the consensus on the 1-n-done is it′s pointless. It doesn′t do much for the players on an educational level, and for players like Ben Simmons, it′s an annoying barrier blocking the inevitable. The NBA shouldn′t focus on what age to allow players to enter to the draft, but instead figuring how to make sure players are playing at peak levels before entering the draft.