How Bronny James improved his stock through combined performance

With dozens of Cameras tracking his every move Bronny James took the court Monday night for the NBA Draft ready to create his own narrative.

It was the first day of strength and agility training in Chicago, and James was in one of the last groups to participate, but several executives, including Los Angeles Lakers vice president Rob Pelinka, remained in the stands at Wintrust Arena to watch his workouts. .

James has put together an impressive first day. He recorded a vertical jump of 40.5 inches, which was the fourth-highest among participants in the group with strong marks compared to his peers in agility training. He shot 19-for-25 on three-point shooting drills, which ranked second overall. And even though he stands at 6-foot-1 without shoes, his 6-foot-7¼ wingspan and 210-pound frame are still comparable to NBA players like Gabe Vincent or Gary Harris.

James went on to participate in scrimmages the next two days, and scouts who spoke to ESPN this week praised James for his performance and the way he filled a role to help his team win, hitting open shots and playing defense with enthusiasm.

Before the eyes of NBA executives, his combined performance — from the quantifiable to the intangible — shot him up the ESPN Top 100 rankings, rising from 98th overall to 54th. Within days, the projection went from outside the top 100 prospects to a potential second-round pick ahead of the June 26-27 NBA Draft.

James was not initially among the 78 prospects invited to the combine, but was instead somewhere in the middle of the pack. But more importantly, by the end of the combine, he looked like he belonged.

Bronny James still lives in the shadow of his superstar father, LeBron James. For years, his name was in the headlines due to his father’s desire to play alongside him before his career ended. LeBron James, 39, the reigning MVP and four-time NBA champion, has completed his 21st season and could become a free agent this summer if he opts out of his contract with the Lakers. But he recently said he “hasn’t thought much lately” about teaming up with his eldest son in the NBA.

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Bronny James, 19, told reporters this week that he views the combination as a showcase of the work he’s done since the end of his first college season at USC (adding more size), to himself as a person (taking questions from the media) after not… Granted interviews as a freshman ) and the player is He is On the court (an NBA prospect separate from his famous name).

James has stated that his goal is to make it to the NBA and not necessarily just play alongside his father, the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.

“It’s always been my dream to make my name and make a name for myself, and of course get to the NBA, which is everybody’s angle here,” James said Tuesday. “I never thought about playing with my dad, but of course he brought it up a few times.”

If Bronny James’ goal this week was to create a gap between himself as a player and his father, he began to do so with a strong performance among the rest of Chicago’s draft hopefuls.

“It comes again,” USC guard and fellow prospect Isaiah Collier said. “It will take some time, but Bronny will be really good.

“You will go see the truth soon.”

When asked any Noting that NBA players are very similar to his game, James pointed to Jrue Holiday of the Boston Celtics, Derrick White and the Sacramento Kings’ Davion Mitchell — guards who excel in their roles by being pests on defense.

“[Mitchell] “It was an interesting comparison to hear him point that out,” one team executive told ESPN. “He showed that he’s realistic in thinking about this. I see a little bit of Aaron Holiday in him.”

James’ freshman season at USC was postponed after he suffered cardiac arrest during a practice in July and required surgery for a congenital heart defect. He didn’t make his college debut until December, but even then he admitted he still felt some lingering effects as well as some notable fear from the episode.

“He was in a difficult situation in college,” the executive continued. “He’s had a health issue, and their backcourt was already primed. Collier is a legitimate lottery pick, and Boogie Ellis is a big player in front of him. So I can see where [James] He needs more time, but in a few years he will have a chance to be a rotational player in the NBA.”

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With a limited sample of game tape from his rookie season — he averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 25 games for the Trojans — several executives who spoke to ESPN at the start of the group said they were eager to see how James looked off the field. Up close and on the field.

In his first scrimmage on Tuesday, James failed to capitalize on the momentum generated by his strong showing on opening night. He struggled to find a rhythm while playing 19 minutes, going 2 of 8 from the field and collecting 4 points and 4 rebounds.

“He made that nice move for the floater,” one Eastern Conference scout told ESPN. “But he needed to do something more to stand out.”

“With his length, when you’re undersized, you need to do more special things,” the Eastern Conference general manager told ESPN.

He wears black HOODIE With the hood pulled over his head as if it would make him incognito, LeBron James walked down the steps of the stands at Wintrust Arena and found a seat in the second row on center court.

He was accompanied by his wife, Savannah, as they sat near LeBron and Bronny’s agent, Rich Paul. Bronny’s second and final brawl of the week was about to begin.

He was not in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s match, but he looked comfortable from the moment he fell to the ground. He scored during his first stint, making a defender leap into the air with a pump fake before dribbling in a mid-range jumper. He knocked down a pair of catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and set up some creative passes for his teammates.

“This stuff takes time, man. How many rookie players come into the league at 19 and have it all figured out and can make an impact right away?” The G League general manager told ESPN. “You trust his basketball IQ, and he’s going to figure some things out because of the way he was raised. He’s LeBron James’ son.”

Bronny scored 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 23 minutes in the second scrimmage, earning him the game’s MVP award and a postgame interview on the ESPN broadcast.

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LeBron sat smiling in the stands as he gestured to Bronny as he walked over to put on a headset for a postgame courtside interview, and Savannah pulled out her phone to document the moment.

“I always try to play the right way, but my teammates and coaches encouraged me to be aggressive,” Broni said in an interview after the match. “They believe in me. I feel like that’s a big part of the reason I came out and played the right way for my team and my teammates.

“They really helped me today.”

Bronny James announced For the NBA draft while maintaining his college eligibility. He has until May 29 to decide whether to remain in the draft or return to college, where he has decided to enter the transfer portal.

James admitted this week that he hasn’t made up his mind yet and declined to say whether he will meet with NBA teams during the pre-draft process. A source said that James will conduct training sessions with different teams based on the talks coming from Chicago.

The Lakers have shown continued interest in James as the rest of the league has become aware of what Los Angeles has been exploring for some time, a source said.

James will participate in Klutch Sports’ pro day on Wednesday, May 22. Klutch is holding his pro day at the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo, California.

If James decides to return to college and move elsewhere, Duquesne is expected to be among his considerations, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski in early April. Duquesne’s new coach, Dru Joyce, was a high school teammate of LeBron and a longtime family friend.

For now, Bronny James is taking some time to himself to think about his future.

If he chooses the NBA, his performance this week helped raise his case as a legitimate prospect in the eyes of league executives and scouts.

“Wherever I’m happy, I feel like that’s the best opportunity and the best situation I want to be in,” James said. “Yes, just wherever my heart wants to be [go]“I feel like this is where I should be.”

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Jonathan Givony contributed reporting.

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