After 20 hours or so of endless hot takes and speculation following Zion Williamson’s shoe blowout and knee injury last night, the NBA has officially taken the first step forward to ensuring players are able to enter the draft right out of high school.
According to a report by USA Today, the NBA has officially filed a formal proposal that will lower the draft-eligible age from 19 years old to 18, a move that would likely take place starting in time for the 2022 NBA Draft.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) February 21, 2019
Back in October of 2018, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that 2022 was the target range for the NBA to make the official rule change, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver saying on multiple occasions that the 19-year-old age limit is simply not working for the league, nor is it working for the college basketball ranks.
The NBA informed teams no changes to allow HS players into Draft will happen prior to 2022, sources tell ESPN. NBA/NBPA have been negotiating to change age eligibility to 18. HS players could already go directly into G-League — it’s just now elite can make $125K instead of $35K.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2018
We have heard speculation about lowering the draft age for years, with the MLB model of players having the option of entering the professional ranks right out of high school or playing in college for a set number of years (likely two) being the most popular outcome.
Obviously this is major news for Kentucky and the rest of the blue bloods in college basketball, as the recruiting world would be flipped upside down. With elite talents such as Williamson, RJ Barrett, Deandre Ayton, etc. entering the draft right out of high school, the nation’s top schools would then compete for the next-best group of talent and groom them for several years before they would be allowed to make the jump to the NBA.
This change has been in the works for quite some time, but it’d be silly to discount the timing of Williamson’s close-call last night and the NBA’s formal proposal as just coincidence.