Multiple NBA executives see University of Southern California guard Bronny James as a late first-round pick, according to The Messenger’s Jeff Goodman.
James is expected to make his season debut on Sunday against California State University, Long Beach (better known as Long Beach State). The freshman guard has been sidelined after going into cardiac arrest during a workout in July.
Even though he has yet to play for USC this season, James is still held in high regard among some NBA executives, but that doesn’t mean he’s expected to go early in the first round of the draft.
“The hope is that Bronny can stay healthy and impact USC for the remainder of the season,” Goodman wrote. “LeBron [James], who turns 39 later this month, has made it no secret that he yearns to play with his son in the NBA before he calls it a career. The NBA execs I’ve spoken to have been intrigued by Bronny’s game and development, but most slotted him as a late first-rounder in a weak NBA draft. That was also prior to the heart issues.”
Meanwhile, at least one scout doesn’t see the younger James as a lottery pick in the draft. That individual also isn’t completely sold that the 19-year-old should be a first-rounder.
“He’s a very good defender,” the NBA scout told Goodman. “Strong, athletic, good ball-mover, some potential as a shooter. Limited ability to create his own shot. I don’t see him as a lottery pick or maybe even a first-rounder.”
Last season, the younger James played for Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, Calif. where he averaged 13.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a senior. That play led to him being ranked as the No. 19 overall recruit in the 2023 recruiting class by ESPN.
As the son of the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, the younger James is facing huge expectations in his first season with the Trojans. With his father still playing at an elite level in the NBA, there is certainly a chance that the two could end up together on an NBA floor in the near future.
However, the younger James is going to need to show that he can compete at an NBA level by impressing for USC this season. There is still plenty of time for the freshman guard to raise his draft stock, starting with his expected debut on Sunday.
The elder James, who has a player option on his contract for the 2024-25 season, could look to join the team that the younger James ends up getting drafted to in order to fulfill his goal of playing with his son.