The father-son/father-daughter rule is considered one of the greatest traditions currently in place within the AFL. Watching young players attempt to emulate their father’s is nostalgic enough, let alone doing it in the same colours and often with the identical number on their back.
It begs the question as to why it’s so unique to the AFL, and why it isn’t implemented in other sports around the world. With that in mind, let’s look at how the NBA may look at present if the league were to have a father-son rule in place.
Here are six current players following in their father’s footsteps. How would their career be panning out if they were drafted to the same franchise? To be eligible the father must have played 400+ NBA games for the given team (equivalent to nearly five full regular seasons excluding playoffs).
6. Larry Nance Jnr – Cleveland Cavaliers/Phoenix Suns
Nance Jnr would have been eligible to be drafted by either the Cavaliers or the Suns thanks to the distinguished career of his father at both franchises. After being drafted to the Los Angeles Lakers with the 27th pick in the 2015 draft, Nance Jnr was traded to the Cavaliers in 2018 where he currently plies his trade wearing his father’s previously retired number 22.
What would have happened if he were drafted to the Cavs to begin with? Would they have traded the number one pick for Kevin Love knowing they would likely pick up Nance Jnr a year later? We could best assume they would have given Nance Jnr wasn’t a lottery selection and the Cavs were in win now mode with Lebron James just returning from Miami.
The Suns can probably count themselves lucky the father-son rule doesn’t exist in this situation. If it were then it may have impacted the selection of current franchise star Devin Booker with the 13th pick. There’s no need for Nance Jnr on the current Suns roster either with DeAndre Ayton, Aron Baynes, Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky performing adequately at the power-forward/centre positions.
5. Tim Hardaway Jnr – Golden State Warriors/Miami Heat
This is the perfect example of a lack of father-son rule working perfectly for all parties. Hardaway Jnr would have been eligible to be selected by either the Warriors or the Heat thanks to the exploits of his father in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
He was taken by the Knicks with the 23rd pick in the 2013 draft and whilst showing signs of flashes, has remained a solid but not outstanding player in his career to date. Both teams could probably do with Hardaway Jnr on their current roster (although his contract isn’t great value), however there was no need to draft him back in 2013. The Heat were win at all costs with their big three of James, Wade and Bosh, whilst the Warriors backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were at the start of their emergence as the ‘splash brothers’.
4. Austin Rivers – Atlanta Hawks
Under a father-son rule, Rivers could have been selected by the Atlanta Hawks thanks to the career of his father Doc. After being selected with the 10th pick of the 2012 draft by the New Orleans Hornets, Rivers ironically moved to the Clippers in 2015 to play under his father as head coach.
The Hawks would have done well to secure Rivers given they used pick 23 on John Jenkins who was out of the league by 2017. He would have served as a reasonable back up to Jeff Teague over his first few years in the league, whilst providing a slight upgrade on Teague as a backup for rising star Trae Young on the current Hawks roster.
3. Domantas Sabonis – Portland Trail Blazers
Sabonis would be eligible to join the Blazers thanks to his father Arvydas who had a good career in the NBA despite not entering the league from Europe until his early 30’s. Originally selected by the Magic (traded to OKC on draft night) with pick 11 back in 2016, Sabonis became an all-star for the first time this season following constant improvement with the Pacers since 2017.
Obtaining Sabonis would have been an excellent selection for the Blazers under a father-son rule, particular given they’ve long been looking for an above average power-forward since the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015.
2. Klay Thompson – Portland Trail Blazers/Los Angeles Lakers
Speaking of the aforementioned splash brothers, the first one on this list is Thompson who would have been eligible to be selected by the Trail Blazers or the Lakers. He was ultimately taken by the Warriors with the 11th pick in the 2011 draft.
Could Thompson have become the player he is today behind the second greatest shooting guard of all time in Kobe Bryant? Probably not. But imagine him with the current Lakers squad of Lebron and Anthony Davis. Scary! The thought wasn’t always a pipe dream though when Thompson became a free agent at the end of last season and with his father Mychal currently a commentator with the Lakers. He did re-sign with the Warriors though, a franchise whose provided him with so much success as one of the league’s best shooting guards.
Being drafted to the Blazers may have worked well, possibly creating an alternate version of the splash brothers with Damian Lillard who was drafted by the Blazers a year after. A backcourt of Lillard and Thompson with a frontcourt of Sabonis and Nurkic is certainly an upgrade on their current line-up.
1. Stephen Curry – Charlotte Hornets
Arguably the best shooter of all time would have been eligible to join the Hornets (formerly Bobcats) thanks to his father Dell. Taken at pick seven in the 2009 draft, it’s near impossible to comprehend what the NBA would look like without Steph at the Warriors.
It’s hard to fathom him being a two-time MVP winning level player at the Hornets, or the franchise putting enough talent around him to reach five consecutive finals series and three championships. No way that could happen at such a disastrous franchise, right? Don’t forget the Warriors had made the playoffs just once in 15 seasons prior to Curry’s arrival. Oh, and the Hornets could probably do with Steph’s younger brother Seth as well.
Would a father-son rule work effectively in other sports? Or does the constant player movement under modern free agency render it pointless?