Lakers Draft Bronny James Can Now Make History With Dad LeBron

LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. takes his talents to… Los Angeles, where history awaits him with his father.

James, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James, was selected by his father’s Lakers with the 55th overall pick in the 2024 NBA draft on Thursday after going undrafted in the first round. If the two players play together on the court, it will be the first time a father and son have played together in NBA history.

The 6-foot-8 point guard out of the University of Southern California was one of the biggest talking points heading into the draft. Although much of the hype stems from his last name, his game has gradually developed over the years to prepare him for this moment.

Yahoo Sports NBA draft analyst Krysten Peek predicted James would be selected with the 55th overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers.

“James is far from a finished product, but he proved he belongs in this draft class as a draft prospect, where he shot the ball well and showed more scoring potential in the lane with his floater,” Peek wrote in his most recent mock draft.

Despite sharing genes with one of the greatest basketball players of all time, experts weren’t as enthusiastic about James entering the draft as they were when his father was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in 2003. One reason for this was James’ disappointing first season at USC. The guard averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting under 40 percent from the field. Add in an unsuccessful Trojans team, and it’s clear that James’ first and only season in college didn’t quite go as planned.

On July 25, James collapsed after suffering cardiac arrest during basketball practice at USC. He was hospitalized and was in stable condition before being released three days later. The health crisis delayed what was supposed to be a ramp-up to his college season. He was only able to practice in late November before suiting up in December to play in his first collegiate game.

James has shown flashes of potential throughout the year. One of his best performances came early in the season against Oregon State when he scored 15 points.

The freshman scored double-digit points just three times. For every electrifying fast-break dunk that reminded fans and scouts of his basketball lineage, there was a shot or decision on the court that raised questions about James’ legitimacy as an NBA prospect.

“We wouldn’t be talking about him if his name was Joe Thomas,” one NBA executive told the New York Post. “A small combo guard who’s not going to grow much bigger, has a really good feel for how to play. Not a great ball handler, a consistent shooter, a strong, vertical athlete and just a decent defender right now.”

Despite the hesitation of many scouts and executives, history shows that the sons of NBA players often outperform their draft position.

“You don’t want to rank him high just because of his dad, so maybe you underrank him,” an anonymous Eastern Conference general manager told Tom Haberstroh of Yahoo Sports.

Haberstroh has noticed a trend in players like Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, whose father played in the league, and how they sometimes end up becoming All-Star caliber players.

“While we’re on the subject of Bronny’s candidacy, it’s worth noting that the success of second-generation players like Brunson isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. Jalen Brunson (No. 33 in 2018; son of Rick), Domantas Sabonis (No. 11 in 2016; son of Arvydas) and Stephen Curry (No. 7 in 2009; son of Dell) have exceeded expectations — not to mention perennial All-Stars like Kobe Bryant (No. 13 in 1996; son of Joe “Jellybean” Bryant), Klay Thompson (No. 11 in 2011; son of Mychal) and Devin Booker (No. 13 in 2015; son of Melvin) weren’t even in the top 10.”

Many thought James would be drafted simply because his father told The Athletic in 2022 that he wanted to play with his son in the league before retiring.

“I’m going to play my last year with my son,” LeBron said at the time. “Wherever Bronny is, that’s where I’m going to be. I’ll do whatever it takes to play with my son for a year. It’s not about the money at this point.”

LeBron has since doubled down on his comments a bit. The 39-year-old “is no longer into the idea of ​​having to play with Bronny,” according to his agent, Rich Paul, who is also Bronny James’ agent.

“If he does, he does. But if he doesn’t, he doesn’t,” Paul told ESPN. “There’s no deal that guarantees that if the Lakers draft Bronny at 55, he (LeBron) will re-sign. If they did, I’d force them to take him at 17. We don’t need leverage. The Lakers can draft Bronny and LeBron won’t re-sign. LeBron won’t go to Phoenix for a minimum contract either. We can crush that now. There are other teams that like Bronny.”

That’s what Paul has said publicly. In private, it could have been different. During the second round, former Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers, who now works as an ESPN commentator, said Paul was calling teams and telling them that if they picked Bronny, he would play in Australia instead.

This implied that Paul had a specific destination in mind, which now appears to have come true.

James finished his high school career at Sierra Canyon as a four-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American. The point guard averaged 14.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals in his senior year of high school.

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