By seriously investing in the domestic basketball talent pipeline, the NBA can improve the overall quality of its own players and the well-being of American basketball players as a whole. First, and most obviously, the on-court product would be improved. We could see fewer players whose poor free throw shooting cause intentional fouling to harm the game’s watchability. Likewise, more players able to pass and dribble. With a larger pool of NBA-level players, the league would have more freedom to expand. Expansion would require the league’s blossoming revenue to be divided further, tabling it in the short term. However, revenue from expansion fees does not feed into ‘basketball related income’ and is therefore not split with players, so the possibility may arise several years down the road. Depending on the exact details of the development system and any future international player market, the NBA and its teams could profit from international transfer fees.
But indirect benefits of such an investment could have more weight in advancing the league’s financial standing. Recently, the NBA’s popularity has been growing domestically and abroad. Moreover, the league’s fan base is among the most racially diverse among major American professional leagues, both in the United States and abroad. This diversity represents basketball’s wide appeal and an opportunity for the NBA to grow its revenue. For example, 45 percent of the league’s fans are African-American as are the majority of its players. The real median income of African-Americans over the last 47 years falls roughly $18,000 short of the average American. Compounding this problem from an NBA perspective, children from poor area are less likely to have access to organized sport. In other words, children in the very communities where the NBA thrives have hardest time accessing organized play. For those who do, the existing sport infrastructure underserves their athletic, mental, scholastic, or social needs.
Building a proper NBA talent pipeline will increase the well-being of those within it. Basketball-playing kids would be put in a better position to succeed by being provided with proper training. Continuing to present the game in a fun and engaging way helps ensure that people stay invested in the sport no matter their potential as elite players. This would move those who have participated in youth basketball along the fan avidity scale while aiding their ability to succeed in other endeavors, scholastically or professionally. Put simply, a rising tide lifts all ships. An ideal development pipeline, outlined in this thesis, can increase the quality of players and the quantity of fans. As cable companies contemplate their future, increasing the number of avid fans can help maintain pressure on rights holders to find ways to monetize digital content with cable subscriptions dropping.