ESPN Now Projecting Bronny James as Top-10 NBA Draft Pick
Bronny James' development as an NBA prospect is an underlying storyline that everybody in the league is keeping an eye on. Not only because the high schooler is the oldest son of LeBron James, but also because The King has said several times that he'd like to play alongside his son as teammates. He signed a contract that he can opt out of in 2024, or the first year Bronny is eligible for the NBA Draft. Someone will end up drafting Bronny just for the chance that LeBron will come to their team, no matter how old he may be. The question is if that team will also get a budding superstar who takes after his dad.
Early returns suggested that Bronny has the athleticism and smarts to reach the NBA but he is not a surefire star or the kind of prospect that evaluators gush over. He is also only 18 years-old and hasn't even decided where he's going for college. He is far from a finished product and trying to project how a high schooler will fare in the pros is basically throwing darts at a dartboard blindfolded. Who remembers the Seventh Wood mixtapes?
I felt it important to preface with that before getting into the meat of this post, which is that ESPN now has Bronny James as a top-10 pick in the 2024 mock draft they published today. From scouting guru Jonathan Givony, who has James going No. 10 overall to the Orlando Magic:
Some might be surprised to see James, ranked anywhere from 28 to 43 by the major recruiting services, as a potential top-10 pick. James has earned his spot in lottery conversations with the significant jump he has made at Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, California, this season, developing into arguably the best perimeter defender in his high school class while making strides in his perimeter shooting and playmaking ability.
As most of his peers have flatlined the past 12 to 18 months, James has grown, filled out his frame, found another gear with his explosiveness and become an absolute terror off the ball defensively thanks to his outstanding intensity and feel for the game. He still has plenty of room to improve his ballhandling and pull-up jumper to become a more prolific and efficient shot creator, but he has already caught the eyes of NBA decision-makers with the way he contributes to winning and likely will continue to grow and fill out his game.
That final half-sentence is what everybody is banking on with predictions like this. "Likely will continue to grow and fill out his game." It is the danger of prospect evaluation and why it is so damn hard. Sure, it's a good bet to make that the son of an all-time great will get better as he grows older. But it is not a guarantee!
A lot can happen between now and June 2024. But if Bronny's name gets called early that night then Givony can confidently proclaim he called his shot.