Bronny James: The Unlikely Favourite for the First Overall NBA Draft Pick

Discover why Bronny James is unexpectedly favored for the first overall NBA Draft pick. Explore betting trends, expert opinions, and how LeBron James' influence shapes his son's NBA future.

Ryan Slattery
Ryan Slattery

Last Updated: 2024-06-05

Naim Rosinski

6 minutes read

Bronny James

People are betting at high clip that Bronny James will be the first overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. We don’t blame them. Everyone dreams of winning Powerball, too.  

quote icon

We’ve seen some action on [Bronny] since we put odds up on him to be first overall. He and Zach Edey have been popular longshots.

David Lieberman

Overdrafting Bronny

But back to Bronny and let’s get straight to the point. If he wasn’t the son of LeBron James: a 20-time All Star, four-time NBA champion with four league MVPs, and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Bronny James would be an afterthought. He wouldn’t even be on the radar of any NBA team. At the moment, he’s a fringe NBA player. His numbers suggest as much.

Now to be fair, Bronny was dealing with serious health issues during his only season at USC. Thankfully, after a scary heart condition Bronny has been cleared to play so now, we’ll see what he can do on the court. But he put up some very pedestrian numbers. And instead of returning to college to show he can possibly play on the next level, his dad is selfishly pushing him to put on a uniform (hopefully the same one as him) and sit the bench to watch pop play what could be his farewell season.  

Bronny averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists while playing just 19.4 minutes per game at USC. Those stats don’t get you into the NBA. A famous last name does. Nobody wants to miss out on the next superstar. But Bronny ain’t it. He’s years away from even making an impact in the NBA.

Bronny’s best avenue to get drafted, stay in the league and prove his worth is to return to college. He needs to develop his game but his father’s bravado and desire to play with his son is forcing the uncomfortable issue as NBA executives balance how to court LeBron for future endeavors.

Image Credits: Bright Side of the Sun

Image Credits: Bright Side of the Sun

His Age and Potential 

Let’s not forget that Bronny is just 19 years old. His game needs work. He’s not the raw talent his dad, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett were when they entered the league at his age. Yet Garnett praised the younger James for his potential and what he showed at the combine when speaking with former Celtics teammate Paul Pierce on the “Ticket & the Truth” podcast.

“Bronny looks really good. He looks poised. He looks like he wasn’t rattled,” Garnett said. “I would actually take a chance on that because greatness runs through bro’s veins. I was watching it, and I was like, ‘Man, if somebody got that early and was able to develop that.’”

Even his agent Rich Paul knows he needs work, yet he’s reportedly informed 10 NBA teams that had intrest in workouts, he’s only accepting two: the Los Angeles Lakers (his dad’s current team) and the Phoenix Suns (who LeBron is rumored to consider leaving for).

“I’m not putting unrealistic expectations on Bronny. He’s far from a finished product.” Paul admitted to ESPN. “I don’t see him not getting drafted, but if it got to a point where the situations didn’t make sense and we needed to go undrafted, that’s fine.”

Translation. If he doesn’t go where LeBron wants him to, he ain’t playing. 

Lieberman’s Take on Draft Position

Lieberman, the Caesars Sportsbook expert, has a more realistic feel. “Bronny has a chance to hop into the late first round but likely early second, maybe Cleveland or the Lakers try to grab him.”

Speaking of Cleveland. The NBA Draft can be a crap shoot. The Cavaliers took Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in 2013. This was someone I saw play lethargic, uninspired ball at UNLV. Bennett didn’t show much in the NBA. In four seasons (151 games), he averaged 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.5 assists. Look familiar?

Teams with immediate needs won’t waste a pick on Bronny hoping he’ll develop in a couple years and become a decent role player. Some teams may consider him as a prospect who can sell jerseys and interest. Others, say the Boston Celtics, with little needs at the moment, may grab him in the hopes of developing him in the future under the tutelage of his dad. Not a bad idea seeing Bronny is probably three years away from making any real impact in the league. 

Possible Landing Spots

So, who will draft Bronny? Probably someone LeBron is already in talks with. Here are five fits. 

Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron, who turns 40 in season, has a $51.4 million player option with the Lakers that he can accept or decline by June 29 (two days after the draft). If they want to keep him for another season, pressure is on the Lakers to draft Bronny. A move that could handicap L.A. for years to come. 

Phoenix Suns

Besides the Lakers, it’s apparently the only other team Bronny will meet with. Why? Because the rumor mill suggests that LeBron wants to team up with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker for one last shot at a championship. Bronny would sit and learn.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Desperate for intrigue and a desire to have a “James” jersey back in the gift shop, this is a franchise who would draft him for media attention and simply to reminisce. 

San Antonio Spurs

This scenario is fascinating. Victor Wembanyama is a future star but this roster needs work. San Antonio has the #4, #8, #35 and #48 picks in the draft. What if they used one of those second round picks on Bronny and let head coach Gregg Popovich teach this roster how to win. In a couple years, they’d be a force. 

Golden State Warriors

Klay Thompson is likely leaving. There will be salary cap room to add LeBron, draft Bronny and give Stephen Curry and company one last run at a title. 

The Upcoming NBA Draft 

Ultimately, while Bronny James' potential and famous lineage have generated significant betting interest and speculation, his path to the NBA remains uncertain and highly dependent on his development and strategic decisions by both him and his father, LeBron James.

The NBA Draft will be held on June 26-27, and only then will we see which team is willing to take a chance on Bronny's promise.

Ryan Slattery
Ryan SlatterySports Writer

Journalist Ryan Slattery has covered all things Las Vegas for the better part of two decades. Entertainment, dining, sports, booze and gambling (it’s Sin City after all). He’s interviewed celebrities, chatted with professional athletes, covered award shows, attended casino-resort openings, and travelled the world in search of a story.