July 22, 2024

Bronny James drafted by Lakers: LeBron James likely to play with son as L.A. takes USC guard in 2024 NBA Draft


The Los Angeles Lakers have selected Bronny James with the No. 55 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. James is the oldest son of NBA legend LeBron James. The two of them will now become the first father-son duo to ever play in the NBA at the same time, and if LeBron decides to return to the Lakers on either a new contract in free agency or through his player option for next season, they will be teammates next season.

That is the outcome that the James camp had seemingly been angling for all along. During ESPN’s broadcast of the second round on Thursday, Bob Myers reported that Rich Paul, agent to both father and son, was telling non-Lakers teams to not draft Bronny or that he would go to Australia. That strategy seemingly scared off the field and allowed him to land in Los Angeles.

Bronny had been among the top prospects in his class for years before ultimately electing to play college ball at USC, just down the road from where his father played for the Lakers. His lone college season was derailed when he suffered a cardiac arrest during a preseason workout. Though he recovered enough to play for the Trojans, he struggled in his lone season, averaging only 4.8 points on 36.6% shooting in a small role.

His NBA projection is not based on what happened at USC, but a combination of his pedigree and what he was able to do at the youth level. Though he has not been blessed with his father’s size or once-in-a-generation athleticism, he is a good athlete overall that plays the sort of high-IQ style you’d expect from LeBron’s son. His best trait is his point-of-attack defense, and while he is relatively small at only 6-foot-1, he is strong enough and has a long enough wingspan at 6-foot-7 to potentially guard bigger players. 

Defense can earn a player early minutes, but if Bronny is going to stick in the NBA, he needs to improve as a shooter. He is not a high-usage ball-handler like his father. His path to a successful professional career will be in the 3-and-D role, and after making only 26.7% of his long-range attempts at USC and struggling from deep throughout his entire amateur career, he has a ways to go on that front.

For years, LeBron has spoken about his desire to play with his son at the end of his NBA career. Technically, though, the two playing on the Lakers together next season is not a lock. James can become a free agent this offseason through his player option, but given how strongly Paul seemingly pushed to get to get the two of them together, it now seems likelier than ever that he would stay put. However, Paul used that uncertainty as a smokescreen to help get Bronny to the Lakers.

“LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny,” Paul told ESPN before the draft. “If he does, he does. But if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. There’s no deal made that it’s guaranteed that if the Lakers draft Bronny at 55, he [LeBron] will re-sign. If that was the case, I would force them to take him at 17. We don’t need leverage. The Lakers can draft Bronny and LeBron doesn’t re-sign.” 

If both members of the James family are Lakers next season, they would be the first father and son to play on the same team in any major North American professional sport since Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. did so as members of the Seattle Mariners in 1990.

Ever since the Lakers fired Darvin Ham as their head coach, they have sent the message publicly that the team is prioritizing player development. New head coach JJ Redick echoed that sentiment at his introductory press conference on Monday. The Lakers have a strong track record when it comes to developing players who were not high draft picks. James can look at examples set by undrafted free agents Alex Caruso and Austin Reaves as well as low picks like Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, Larry Nance Jr. and Ivica Zubac and know that the Lakers will be able to put him in the best possible position to succeed.

The Lakers have always thought of themselves as a family business. Dr. Jerry Buss always kept his children heavily involved in the team’s operations, and the Lakers are now run by his daughter, Jeanie. Now that family business approach will potentially be reflected on the court if LeBron decides to stay in Los Angeles. He has always said that he wants to play with his son. Now he’ll have the chance.





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