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Philadelphia 76ers suffer from NBA timetable change on draft age rule

The NBA is making sure the Philadelphia 76ers won’t have any extra added value to the first round pick they received from the Phoenix Suns.

Currently the NBA and the NBPA (Nation Basketball Players Association) have come to an impasse in regards to getting rid of the one-and-done rule and allowing 18-year-olds that graduated high school to enter the NBA. Even if the NBA and the NBPA do work pass the issues that they are currently facing, the NBA is making sure the implication of this rule change won’t give the Philadelphia 76ers any additional advantages in the 2021 NBA Draft.

The two issues that are delaying the negotiation of this rule change is the right for teams to have full access to high school players medical records and the mandatory attendance to the NBA Draft Combine. The medical records seems to be a sticking point that has the NBA and the NBPA in a dead lock. If they can somehow find a compromise on that point, the combine issue shouldn’t be too hard to overcome.

Even if the two sides can come to terms and agree upon a rule change, any change won’t be implemented until 2022. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN highlighted one of the primary reasons why the NBA decided to wait on implementing any change relating to the age of any draft participants.

“The NBA prefers to wait until 2022 to make sure that teams have time to properly plan on several levels, including the trading and acquisition of future picks.

Phoenix traded the rights to Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick to Philadelphia in June, and the moving of that valued pick played some part in pushing back the proposed rule change to 2022, league sources said. Those teams made decisions without the benefit of knowing the timetable on a change in the age limit. The first crop of high school seniors will be deeper in talent than those who come immediately before and after it.”

A quick recap on the trade Wojnarowski is referring to in his article: the Sixers traded the rights of Mikal Bridges, the 10th pick of the draft, for rights to Zhaire Smith who was the 16th pick and the rights to the Miami Heat’s 2021 unprotected first round pick. However, one important aspect that Wojnarowski left out of his article is that the Sixers did know about the possible rule change when they did make the deal.

NBC Sports quoted head coach Brett Brown after the trade was made in which Brown explained all the reasons behind the trade, including the value of the 2021 pick.

‘“And then there’s a 2021 pick, and we all understand that that could be the year that high school people are allowed into the NBA and that is far out. And it also could be the thing … that could be the thing that flips it with us having more assets to enhance a realistic trade for a star.”’

It’s clear that the Sixers made the trade knowing about at least the possibility of a change to the age of entry into the NBA Draft. Yet it appears the NBA is making sure the 76ers won’t have the ability to have a roster stacked with elite talent for the long term.

It makes sense for the NBA to want to make sure any team doesn’t get an unfair advantage due to a rule change. However, from the Sixers perspective it seems unfair that the Association is taking any possible extra value the pick might have had if high school students were allowed in the draft in 2021.

It should be noted that wasn’t the only reason why the NBA is waiting until 2022 for the rule change. Wojnarowski also added in his article that, “…current American high school freshmen who will have access to USA Basketball’s Junior National program…”. This is to help guide athletes as they become professional basketball players.

The NBA took away some of the value and purpose of doing the trade with Phoenix by pushing back the launch date of any possible rule change. Now the Sixers won’t have the same advantage going in the 2021 draft with the Heat’s pick before this change in rules was set.

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This change of when the rules takes place seems as if the NBA is purposely hurting the Philadelphia 76ers long term success. If this change appears to be permanent, then this is something that Sixers ownership will need to take with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

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