The league wasn’t able to change its draft eligibility rules during collective bargaining last year. The rules require an American player to be 19 years old and a year out of high school. The players’ association would only agree to form a committee to discuss changes, and it is unlikely to consent to an increase without some concessions from owners.
While Stern says the NBA ”would love to add a year,” he’s pleased that the age limit, instituted in 2005, has kept NBA scouts out of high school gyms.
While forcing NBA players to attend an extra year in college is a nice enough theory, the actual merits of an increased age limit are questionable. Even if you get past whether or not it’s morally right to not allow NBA-ready players who are old enough to vote and have jobs to play in the NBA, the fact is that there are a lot more options for young basketball players to make money outside of the NBA than there are for young football players to make money outside of the NFL. Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and countless other players certainly haven’t struggled in the NBA: in fact, Bill Simmons’ top 4 picks for MVP this season have a combined 2 years of college experience.
On top of that, an increased age limit could lead to more players going overseas, like Brandon Jennings (who would be considered a success story) or Jeremy Tyler (who would not be considered as much of a success story) in order to get a payday and a more comfortable life for themselves and their families. Eliminating prep-to-pro players was one thing, and the merits of that decision can still be debated; increasing the age limit by a year would seem to be pushing it.