Will future NBA stars bypass college for the NBL?

Photo Credit: Adelaide 36ers

The question of overseas imports in domestic sports teams is a prickly one. From Sheffield Shield cricket, where one man’s inclusion sparked an outcry that it was damaging the national team, to the ludicrous situation in the UK Premier League where you might sometimes see teams entirely comprised of overseas talent, it seems there is no rhyme and little reason to how the question is addressed from one sport to the next.

The NBL at least takes a pragmatic view, which is that a limited number of imports are allowed. However, the fact that this number is rising from three to four could have significant implications for the teams and for the NBL’s role on the international basketball map.

Making room for the one and done’s

The one and done phenomenon is one that only America could have brought about. It describes those basketball players who have played out the obligatory year in order to be eligible to play in the NBA.

The strategy is one that has courted controversy for years, as it is clearly against the spirit of what the college game is supposed to be about. However, one and done’s are here to stay, and draft-eligible players are showing an increased interest in the NBL and vice versa, particularly in the wake of Terrance Ferguson’s contribution for the Adelaide 36ers. So the NBL has taken action that should be in everyone’s interest.

The problem with only three import spaces has always been that it gives little room for future stars like Ferguson. When you have only three spots available, they need to be dedicated to players you know will make a difference, and from whom the rest of the team can learn and be inspired. There is simply no room for an import with only one year’s college experience, even if he has the potential to be the next Magic Johnson.

As part of its Next Stars program, the NBL is opening up a fourth berth that is specifically for draft eligible players. This will give the most promising players a chance to shine, and will allow coaches to put their faith in precocious talent, without putting their own jobs on the line.

Raising the profile of NBL

If the Terrance Ferguson experience is anything to go by, the program ought to be a win / win for all concerned. It will give the stars of the future a chance to prove themselves, and will raise the profile of the NBL, cementing its place as a powerhouse in world basketball. As it is, online streaming can be accessed worldwide and sites like Bettingpro provide free betting tips on NBL games. In other words, the league is already beginning to attract a truly global audience.

Jeremy Loeliger, the CEO of the NBL was quick to hammer home the point about the league’s position in world basketball when interviewed by ESPN last week. He said: “The NBL is considered one of the best leagues in the world and this initiative will give these up and coming stars an opportunity to create a name for themselves on the way to being drafted into the NBA.”

Always with an eye on the dollars

Of course, the business of sport is also just that – a business. Raising the profile, and attracting larger audiences makes as much commercial sense for teams as it does sporting sense. However, there is an even more direct financial benefit to the latest scheme.

NBA rules state that franchises can pay as much as $700,000 to buy a player out of an international contract. This is just another reason why NBL teams will be searching so hard to find the next major superstar – and ideally to sign him on a multi-year deal.

The Pick and Roll Team

Written by

The Pick and Roll was founded in 2014, and continues to strive to be the best platform for you, when it comes to Australian basketball news and features.

Share your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.