Former NBA exec thinks Bronny James’ upside could be similar to that of Gary Harris

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA executive and current columnist for the The Athletic John Hollinger believes that University of Southern California guard Bronny James could have upside similar to that of Orlando Magic guard Gary Harris in the NBA.

James is currently a freshman at USC, and he missed part of the regular season for the Trojans due to a heart issue that he dealt with in the offseason. James has appeared in 18 games, making six starts for the Trojans. He’s averaging 20.4 minutes per game.

While the USC guard’s father LeBron is one of the greatest players in the NBA and currently starring for the Los Angeles Lakers, Hollinger doesn’t think that the younger James should be a one-and-done player in college.

“He’s not a guy who would normally be a one-and-done,” Hollinger said.

During his freshman season, the younger James is averaging 5.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 36.5 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from beyond the arc.

The USC guard has struggled to score the ball at the collegiate level, which could make it tough for him to transition to the NBA.

Hollinger did give the younger James credit for his feel for the game, but it doesn’t appear that he’s sold on him as an NBA prospect just yet.

“Hollinger noted Bronny’s strong frame and feel for the game as positives,” The Athletic’s Brendan Marks wrote. “But he also noted how the USC freshman, as all the stats and game film show, struggles to score consistently at any level right now. Hollinger suggested that Bronny’s upside might eventually be akin to that of Gary Harris.”

Still, there are moments where the younger James has shown his unique ability, such as on a tough finish off of a lob pass.

Being compared to Harris – a former first-round pick – is not a bad thing for the younger James.

Taken by the Chicago Bulls in the 2014 NBA Draft (19th overall), Harris has carved out a nice career playing for the Denver Nuggets and Magic. His best seasons came in Denver when he had back-to-back seasons where he averaged 14.9 points and then 17.5 points per game.

Harris is a solid 3-and-D guard, and he’s in his 10th season in the NBA in the 2023-24 campaign. That would be a solid career for the younger James, if he were to live up to Hollinger’s comparison.

Recently, the USC guard was linked to the Toronto Raptors as a potential option in the 2024 NBA Draft, but it may not be a guarantee that the son of the NBA’s all-time leading scorer declares for the draft.

The younger James could opt to stay in school to improve his game – and his stock – and enter the draft after next season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.