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Raising NBA's age limit not the answer
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Joel Embiid would make the cut. Barely. Jabari Parker wouldn’t. Neither would Andrew Wiggins or Julius Randle or Dante Exum or Noah Vonleh or a host of other top-tier prospects.

For the Sixers, this season is about next season and the season after that and all the other seasons to follow. This year is about the future, about positioning the organization to grab young talent and grow. It’s why there’s so much interest in the upcoming draft. The player pool is overloaded with potential.

If new NBA commissioner Adam Silver had his way, however, many of the aforementioned young players would have to wait at least another year before entering the draft. During All-Star weekend -- while so many people were distracted by the disastrous dunk contest or Nick Cannon’s curious omnipresence –- Silver discussed league-related topics, including one of his favorites: Raising the NBA age requirement from 19 years old to 20.

"Everywhere I go, I know people dislike the so-called 'one-and-done,'" Silver said. "I think it's important to the NBA, it's important to basketball generally that there be strong college basketball.”

Strong college basketball is fine. Great, even. The rest of his statement was thinner. If Silver finds people who “dislike the so-called ‘one-and-done’” everywhere he goes, perhaps he doesn’t go many places. At the least, he goes different places than I do.

I’m not a fan of the one-and-done rule either, but for a different reason. I’ve long preferred the old unrestricted free market system that allowed LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett and others to bypass college in favor of the pros. In fairness, the previously permissive system also gave us Kwame Brown and Sebastian Telfair, but these things happen. The pool should be open to all. The capable will swim and the incapable will drown. No lifeguards are needed. Talent is its own flotation device.

To enter the draft, the NBA requires players to be at least 19 and a year removed from high school. During the 2011 lockout, the league briefly proposed raising the minimum age to 20, but the owners and players were too busy arguing over other issues they deemed more important. Like money.

Next year will mark a decade since the league imposed the 19-year-old rule. The idea was to save players from themselves while saving college basketball. No one seemed interested in whether anyone actually needed saving in the first place. No one seems interested in that now, either.

Silver said the NBA has a “responsibility” to “ensure that the game is played the right way.” He also wants “values of the game” to be “executed properly.” If only James Naismith was still around. He’d surely agree and rush to replace the breakaway rims with traditional peach baskets. Silver might have a harder time selling Naismith on the league’s ever-increasing love and dependence on the three-point shot, though.

While couched in standard finger-wagging, back-in-my-day retro-speak, Silver’s underlying point wasn’t a bad one. Many young players would no doubt benefit from better and longer coaching at lower levels before trying to make it in the league.

The issue here –- and this is where I part company with Silver –- is the talent evaluators who eagerly spent real dollars like counterfeit currency on players who simply weren’t ready to graduate from high school to the NBA. Boy geniuses like James and Bryant and Garnett are few –- but that doesn’t mean they should be held back because too many of their peers were allowed to skip ahead before they were ready for advanced placement. Again, the sink or swim approach –- or, in this case, pass or fail -– would be fine. The people doing the grading just have to be more judicious about who's admitted to the NBA’s exclusive doctorate program.

Silver said he’s heard an increasing sentiment from coaches around the league that “many top players…could use more time to develop as leaders as part of college programs.”

“I think the older players are coming into the league, I personally think that extra year in college could help people,” Brett Brown said. “I think anytime you can get a more mature player, somebody that’s had a chance to have, perhaps, a more fundamental base instilled in them, how can that be a bad thing?

In theory, sure –- except the NBA isn’t an abstract mental exercise. It’s a real business. When Brown was done talking to the media before Tuesday’s game against Cleveland, he went out to the court and spent a while talking with one player in particular, a guy he and Sam Hinkie think will be pretty good for them for a long while: Nerlens Noel. The center is 19-years old.