ESPN has James at pick No. 17 prior to his first collegiate season at the University of Southern California. The order in the mock draft is based on ESPN projections and reflects picks that are owed and owned.
At No. 25, ESPN has the Lakers selecting Bobi Klintman of the Cairns Taipans, a team in the National Basketball League in Australia.
LeBron James has said it is his desire to play in the NBA with his son. Despite hinting at retirement following the Lakers’ playoff elimination to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, the elder James is expected by many to return in the 2023-24 campaign. He would have to play at least one more season after that to have a chance to compete with his son on the same NBA court.
The younger James is one of the most interesting prospects in his draft class — primarily because of his famous name, but not only because of that. Earlier this year, C.J. Moore of The Athletic wrote that his ability to improve while having so many eyes on him indicates good things about his mental makeup. Moore sees him as a combo guard who is better off the ball.
In the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday, the Lakers selected Indiana University guard Jalen Hood-Schifino with the No. 17 pick. Los Angeles is expected to be active this offseason in an attempt to improve its roster around the elder James and Anthony Davis.
It is possible that the younger James will play more than one collegiate season and therefore not be part of the 2024 NBA Draft. But if he is available, expect all eyes to be on where he ends up.