NBA commissioner Adam Silver signaled the possible dawning of a new era of basketball policy on Monday, hinting at larger studies of the role the NBA should take in youth basketball. The next phase could be a revolutionary step for integrating NBA ethos in high school basketball … or it could be just another false down and small trip down the road.
“We’ve talked a lot about youth development in terms of whether we should be getting involved in some of these young players even earlier than when they come into college,” Silver told ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst. “And from a league standpoint, on one hand, we think we have a better draft when we’ve had an opportunity to see these young players play an elite level before they come into the NBA. On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger?”
What does he mean when he says, “intersecting with them a little bit younger?” The implication seems clear: The NBA is trying to weigh whether to get involved in the Elite youth basketball circuit, perhaps offsetting or augmenting the Nike EYBL, Adidas Uprising and Under Armour circuits. After all, if the sneaker giants can run youth basketball, perhaps the NBA should get involved so they can feel a bit more safe about proceedings.
These discussions come on the heels of vocal criticism of the NCAA system by LeBron James and former President Barack Obama, both of whom called on the NBA to expand the G-League so it could present a viable domestic alternative to the NCAA. Now it seems like that could happen. At the very least, it will be discussed.
And just starting that discussion could mark a sea change for relations between the NBA and NCAA. That’s a major development in the basketball pipeline, and one which may finally move the NBA toward a more global system of talent development and away from the American scholastic system. That’s good news for uber-talented basketball teens and bad news for powerful college coaches and NCAA’s March Madness.