Bronny James to the Lakers? Why all signs currently point to LeBron James’ son joining him in L.A.

Bronny James is expected to stay in the 2024 NBA Draft. Sorry, Duquesne. Bright lights will be on James this week at the 2024 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, where he’s going to want to prove he’s a draftable prospect. It probably won’t matter how he looks, as his famous father has made it crystal clear he wants to play with his son before he retires.

The Los Angeles Lakers are likely to abide by LeBron James’ wishes; whether that comes in the first round at No. 17 overall or in the second will be one of the defining stories of June’s draft, which is a two-night event this year.

An unfortunate series of events has seen James fall from a top-30 recruit and projected lottery pick and top-15 prospect in the CBS Sports prospect rankings rankings to a fringe second-round pick.

Bronny suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during a workout in August, which delayed his USC debut to mid-December. On a floundering Trojans team, Bronny struggled to stand out, averaging 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He wasn’t the only Trojan whose stock fell: Top-3 high school prospect Isaiah Collier shot in poorly en route to averaging 16 points per game and is hoping to be a top-10 pick in June. Kobe Johnson was a projected Round 1 pick entering the year and does not appear in the latest CBS Sports mock draft from Kyle Boone. Even coach Andy Enfield, seeing the writing on the wall, departed for SMU and set off a historic chain reaction that eventually led to John Calipari taking the Arkansas job.

“My take on Bronny is very much the same as it was a year ago — he was never the one-and-done lottery candidate that some suggested,” says 247Sports Director of Scouting Adam Finkelstein. “However, he was a physically gifted athlete who shot the ball well from the 3-point line and was a very good defender. In short, he was a player who could impact winning, but not nearly as dynamic as his name suggested. While his production at USC this year was even less than our conservative projections from a year ago, that came after the summer’s cardiac arrest and subsequently missing the entire pre-season.”

Bronny has skills as a facilitator and defensive weapon whose scoring could eventually improve. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, but probably is not that tall (we will find out this week). By any measure, he’s going to want to prove he stacks up capably with the rest of the draft class this week. He’s used to high competition and big pressure — an excellent senior season at Serra Canyon and terrific showcase last year during the week of McDonald’s All-American practices helped him improve his recruiting ranking. The scene this week won’t be dissimilar.

Regardless, though, Bronny could very well become a Laker. It probably won’t happen in the first round. My bet would be it does in the second, if at all. It appears doubtful anybody else will draft him in hopes of wooing LeBron — LeBron seemingly wants to remain a Laker and wants Bronny with him. As a result, you can bet that Klutch Sports would discourage any other team from drafting the younger James because of ‘Bron’s desires. It would be surprising if Bronny even does pre-draft workouts with more than a handful of carefully selected teams.

“I still maintain that Bronny to the Lakers, whether that be in the second-round or as an undrafted two-way, is the most plausible scenario,” Finkelstein said. “If not the Lakers, you can bet LeBron, and Klutch by extension, will be very deliberate about what organizations they allow him to be associated with. Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Golden State are a few that could get some consideration.”

So, it all boils down to this: Bronny James will likely be a Laker this fall. FanDuel agrees, setting the Lakers at +185 to draft Bronny; the next-shortest odds are the Knicks, at +1400.

This isn’t based on his play at USC or even his upcoming performance as the NBA combine. Instead, it’s a byproduct of his father’s stardom and his correlated influence.

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