Stephen A. Smith theorizes Bronny James’ stock is being manipulated to potentially allow Lakers to select him

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen A. Smith of ESPN believes that there may be a correlation between the Los Angeles Lakers having the No. 55 overall pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft and LeBron James’ son Bronny being ranked as ESPN’s No. 54 prospect in a recent evaluation.

Speaking on the subject, Smith seemingly implied that the younger James’ new ranking opens the door for the Lakers to justifiably select him — something that seems like too much of a coincidence to the ESPN analyst.

The younger James’ draft stock has seemingly risen in recent days following his showing at the 2024 NBA Draft Combine. He registered a max vertical leap of more than 40 inches, which ranked as the fourth-best measurement of any prospect who participated.

The youngster also impressed folks with his 3-point shooting ability at the combine, as he buried 19 of his 25 attempts from deep in a 3-point shooting drill.

Interestingly, the younger James struggled mightily to shoot the ball accurately from deep during his lone season of college basketball at the University of Southern California. In 25 games played with the Trojans during the 2023-24 season, he shot just 26.7 percent from 3-point range on 2.4 attempts per game.

Additionally, he didn’t make more than two 3s in any single game during his stint at the collegiate level. Arguably his best performance with the Trojans in terms of shooting the ball from deep came when he knocked down both of his 3-point tries in a loss to the University of Oregon on Feb. 1.

With the 2024 NBA Draft just under a month away, the elder James’ future in the NBA is up in the air as well. If he were to opt out of his deal for the 2024-25 campaign, he would hit unrestricted free agency this summer, and a recent rumor has linked him to the Philadelphia 76ers, who are led by a star duo of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

However, the overwhelming expectation is that he will return to L.A.

The elder James has spent the last six seasons of his NBA career with the Lakers franchise and recently averaged 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game across 71 appearances in the 2023-24 regular season, his 21st year in the pros.

Share This Article
Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.