This study provides a data-driven analysis of the “one-and-done” policy for early entry into the NBA draft. The NBA, NCAA, and NBPA have all expressed some dissatisfaction with the policy, and the potential CBA negotiations in 2017 present the NBA and NBPA with an opportunity to improve it. Our analysis demonstrates that:
(1) there is a natural downward trend in entry age, which was shifted upward by the one-and-done policy;
(2) players who delay entry and play in the NCAA do not make up the foregone earnings;
(3) NBA teams are no more accurate in projecting player value when drafting players with more NCAA experience;
(4) NBA teams are no more accurate when drafting players since the introduction of one-and-done; and
(5) NBA teams are more accurate when drafting players earlier in the draft.
In the context of these findings, we discuss options for improving the policy. These include (a) modifying the rookie scale to compensate players for NCAA participation, and (b) introducing an entry threshold that allows only the best players to enter the NBA, while allowing others to develop in the NCAA. We also discuss options for compensating college athletes, including allowing players to receive revenue from endorsements and licensing.
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