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Going pro early may be a no-brainer for exceptional, young basketball stars like former Duke freshman and 2019 NBA draft first-pick Zion Williamson. But a study in the "International Journal of Sport Finance" proposes a new salary structure that might entice most other college players considering the NBA to graduate before trying their hand at going pro.
"Zion Williamson is a classic example of a strangely strong signal that foregoing the remaining time in college is rational—from a basketball perspective, we're not talking about his education or degrees—but from a basketball learning perspective, he had nothing more to gain from playing for Duke. So he should go to the pros and get the contract," says Michael J. Tomas III, finance professor at the University of Vermont (UVM) and co-author of the study with UVM accounting professor Barbara Arel.
NBA - Career - Length - Years - Arel
Noting that the average NBA career length is 4.8 years, Arel and Tomas reimagined the NBA's rookie salary scale—which currently awards the highest salary to the player picked first in the draft and dwindles down with each successive player picked—in a way that considers both draft pick position and class year.
"This is our attempt to show that you could alter the NBA draft schedule to try to incentivize students to stay. There's been a big discussion about people leaving early to go to the NBA draft and I think that revolves around the idea of wanting to see them get an education," says Tomas.
Study - Pay - Scale - Gains - Athletes
Their study proposes a pay scale that locks in salary gains as athletes advance toward graduation and incorporates yearly...
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