It is hard to believe, but it has been 16 years since Kevin Garnett became the first player in 20 years to jump straight from high school to the NBA. It would take a few years, but eventually, his move opened the flood gates that ultimately led to the NBA revamping their eligibility rules.
In the year before Garnett’s debut (1994-95), the average age in the NBA was 27.4. That number peaked at 28.0 in 1999-2000. But then the average in the NBA quickly dropped until 2005-06 when the average age was 26.7.
It was in 2006 that the NBA changed their eligibility rules, essentially forbidding high school players from jumping straight to the pros. Starting in 2006, players had to be at least one year removed from his high school graduating class.
And what we see is that the average age in the NBA has held steady since then…
And now the question of eligibility is once again on the table as the NBA nears a potential lockout. And yet, we have already seen that young players can be quite successful in the NBA.
Will the NBA be successful in making it more difficult for young players to enter the league? Only time will tell. But if they do, it may be the only way to reverse a decade-long trend of the NBA getting younger.
Data via the NBA and Basketball-Reference.com