Gaming & E-sport

Bronny James scouting report: How he can make NBA draft without playing like his dad

The nationwide highlight on Bronny James’ basketball future began earlier than he entered highschool. The oldest son of LeBron James started drawing consideration taking part in on the grassroots circuit weeks after his well-known father left the Cleveland Cavaliers to signal with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summertime of 2018. On the time, Bronny was a 13-year-old guard standing 5’10 who immediately turned the topic of intense curiosity as LeBron and his mates adopted him from health club to health club.

James has now completed his junior season as Sierra Canyon, the LA-based powerhouse the place he’s spent his total highschool profession. As his father returned to Cleveland for the 2022 NBA All-Star Sport, he added a brand new degree of scrutiny to Bronny’s recreation when he confirmed his long-rumored want to play along with his son earlier than he retires.

“My final 12 months will probably be performed with my son,” James informed The Athletic. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s the place I’ll be. I might do no matter it takes to play with my son for one 12 months. It’s not in regards to the cash at that time.”

How good is LeBron James Jr.? That query stays up for debate earlier than he’s set to begin a important last season taking part in on Nike’s EYBL circuit. Whereas the long-term imaginative and prescient for his recreation has crystalized since he first got here below the microscope, he stays a polarizing prospect whose recreation is commonly misconstrued by followers who make large assumptions primarily based on his final identify.

Bronny James top, age, and scouting necessities

Right here’s what we learn about Bronny proper now:

There are 23 gamers within the class rated as 5-star prospects proper now, making James one of many highest ranked four-star recruits. He has firmly established himself as a high-major faculty prospect, however the actuality is that he’s removed from a typical recruit because the son of one of many best basketball gamers ever.

James has performed on stacked groups at Sierra Canyon full of present and future NBA gamers. He shared the ground with Zairie Williams and B.J. Boston early in highschool profession earlier than each have been chosen within the 2021 NBA Draft. This 12 months he was teammates with Amari Bailey, the UCLA-bound guard rated because the No. 2 participant within the senior class. Sierra Canyon had two different top-100 seniors on the roster in USC-bound large man Kijani Wright and Nebraska signee Ramel Lloyd Jr.

James took the ground for Sierra Canyon this season lower than a 12 months since he tore his meniscus in Feb. 2021. With a lot expertise round him, Bronny has primarily been requested to be a task participant. Add within the pandemic drastically altering the highschool schedule in California, and there merely isn’t a lot tape on Bronny but.

“To me he’s all the time been roughly one of many 20 finest children within the class,” stated PD Net, director of analysis & improvement at Cerebro Sports activities. “It’s simply not the best way we consider stars, and particularly NBA infants.”

Whereas Bronny is actually an intriguing expertise, he hasn’t all the time had the manufacturing to match it. His finest video games — like a 18-point efficiency towards suburban Chicago titan Glenbard West — are sometimes adopted quieter performances. As Sierra Canyon was upset by Harvard-Westlake throughout the CIF Southern Part Open semifinal recreation, James solely completed with 4 factors. His junior season ended with a blowout loss to an elite Centennial Excessive Faculty workforce in a recreation the place James was held scoreless whereas slowed by a hip damage.

What’s Bronny’s recreation actually like? Listed here are our impressions after watching him as a junior at Sierra Canyon.

Bronny James scouting report

LeBron James began the second act of his profession by surrounding himself with proficient teammates, and his son is doing the identical factor. Because it’s occurred, the youthful James has primarily been slotted into low utilization roles the place he’s been counted on to do the little issues that assist his groups win quite than single-handedly carry them to victory.

Proper now, James is at his finest defending opposing level guards whereas taking part in in an off-ball function offensively. He’s proven promising flashes as a shooter, making pictures from NBA vary off spot-ups and even displaying the flexibility to hit three-pointers off motion.

Whereas he’s the scale of a degree guard, he doesn’t play the place in a standard sense. As a substitute of initiating offense with the ball in his arms, Bronny excels at spacing the ground, making fast choices as a passer, and serving to his workforce get out in transition by turning protection into offense.

“He’s a degree of assault defender who can scale on- and off-ball,” Net stated. “He is a brilliant passer however doesn’t must have the ball in his arms to make it occur. He has taking pictures versatility and he’s additionally a defensive playmaker who can get out in transition. It’s the proper scalable small wing or guard.

“I feel Bronny will find yourself being taller than no matter he’s listed at now. However that’s primarily describing a participant nearer to Danny Inexperienced than LeBron James. I feel that’s the place a number of the misunderstanding of his recreation comes from.”

Bronny James has a promising taking pictures projection

Whereas his dad has performed with the ball in his arms his total life, Bronny is most snug recognizing up from three proper now. His outdoors jumper initially regarded shaky on the EYBL as he returned from the meniscus tear, however he proved he’s a reliable shooter as a junior at Sierra Canyon.

Bronny will convey professional invaluable as a ground spacer. He’s a assured shooter with deep vary who doesn’t hesitate to fireplace within the face of a closeout. Right here’s a spot-up taking pictures compilation from his junior 12 months.

One of many first stuff you’ll discover in regards to the shot is his launch is fairly gradual. He’ll need to work on dashing it up within the coming years, however he shoots a gentle ball with good contact. His means to unfold the ground and hearth threes at quantity will probably be a giant a part of his recreation.

Bronny isn’t only a stationary shooter, both. He’s proven the flexibility to come back off pindowns, get his toes set, and hit pictures. Listed here are a pair examples of Bronny’s motion taking pictures means.

Sierra Canyon will sometimes run actions to get Bronny darting round screens to get open from three. From there, he’s at his finest as a risk to shoot or transfer the ball rapidly with a cross.

There are indicators of a growing pull-up recreation, too. No, Bronny isn’t going to launch threes off the dribble the second the opposing protection goes below a display screen simply but. However he’s proven a consolation degree moving into his one dribble pull-up when the protection tries to run him off the road.

It is a good basis for a 17-year-old, and positively one thing he can construct off from right here. Bronny’s ground spacing means goes to be a important a part of his recreation shifting ahead, and he confirmed sufficient as a junior at Sierra Canyon to consider it is going to be a reliable asset for him.

Bronny James is a brilliant passer who can act because the connective tissue of an offense

The worth of Bronny’s ground spacing is boosted by his means to rapidly acknowledge when he wants to maneuver the ball. If a teammate creates the preliminary benefit and the ball swings to Bronny, he may be counted on to both hearth a 3 or swing the rock to a teammate in a extra advantageous place.

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has helped popularize the concept of ‘0.5 basketball’ — primarily that gamers have half a second to both shoot, cross, or dribble as soon as they contact the ball. Whereas Bronny isn’t totally fashioned on this regard simply but, it’s clear he is an effective processor who needs to make the best play. Right here’s a compilation of Bronny as a passer.

Gamers who can discover the open man with out creating the benefit off the dribble have been labeled as ‘connectors’ on this period of NBA basketball, with Tyrese Haliburton and Lonzo Ball standing out as two examples. Bronny might actually match that archetype someday even with out their measurement. Gamers like De’Anthony Melton and Miles ‘Deuce’ McBride provide the same ability set as shorter guards.

Bronny James’ protection ought to be his calling card

It’s unusual to assume that the son of one of many largest stars in historical past does his finest work on the defensive finish, however that’s the kind of participant Bronny is correct now. Whereas he is probably not tremendous tall or lengthy but, he has fast toes and a powerful physique that ought to make him a top quality defensive guard all through his profession.

Watch Bronny slide his toes, change instructions, and keep away from fouling on this clip.

Just a few issues stand out about Bronny’s protection. He has good lateral quickness with a powerful means to maintain his stability whereas altering instructions. He takes delight in locking down his man, and he’s attentive off the ball. He had a number of situations of giving up his physique for a cost this season.

Bronny has additionally had some fairly shot blocking flashes. Right here’s one:

James’ robust protection usually results in large performs going the opposite approach. Listed here are two clips that present his means to show protection into offense.

Within the first clip, Bronny slides his toes to power his man right into a contact midrange floater, pushes the ball down ground after receiving the cross, and assaults the basket for a layup. Within the second clip, James traps the ball handler on the alternative baseline after a full court docket press, cuts off one other driving lane after a cross, then runs down court docket to complete the defensive possession with a block. Sierra Canyon recovers the ball, kicks it to Bronny to steer the break, and it pushes it down the ground earlier than discovering an open shooter for 3.

James’ lack of measurement will restrict him some, however his sturdy chest, fast toes, and spectacular hand-eye coordination will assist him deal with quite a lot of assignments defensively.

Bettering as a driver is the following step for Bronny

One space the place James Jr. can enhance is by changing into a extra versatile and explosive driver. It’s necessary to keep in mind that he’s nonetheless recovering from a meniscus tear at such a younger age, and that his function on Sierra Canyon has usually been extra about spacing the ground, shifting the ball, and taking part in protection round Bailey because the offense’s first possibility. However discovering an avenue to towards rim strain would go a protracted solution to bettering his inventory as a prospect given his measurement.

There are encouraging flashes. Right here’s an excellent drive by Bronny to his left regardless that he couldn’t get the end to go down:

Right here’s an instance of a drive James really transformed. He splits the pick-and-roll, explodes to the basket, and exhibits good physique management on the end:

Bronny James has all of the makings of a reliable NBA function participant if he can maintain bettering

James’ junior season at Sierra Canyon looks like a hit if you consider all of the missed time coming off a meniscus tear and Covid restrictions. He’s somebody who performs a profitable model of basketball and has the flexibility to enhance the extra ball dominant stars round him.

So far, James Jr. has by no means been requested to be the first offensive possibility on his highschool groups. It could be good to see him assume that function in his last EYBL tour this spring and summer time even when has some rising pains.

“One of many points with him is he type of blends in,” Net stated. “I don’t know what his limitations actually are as a result of he’s all the time been on these actually stacked groups. He’s all the time performed in environments the place he’s not requested to do issues he’s uncomfortable with. The expertise may be constructive even when the outcomes are medium.”

As James continues to flesh out his offensive creation means, he has a excessive ground as a participant who areas the ground, hits pictures, and makes an affect on the defensive finish. That’s a extremely helpful participant in as we speak’s recreation subsequent to the rising development of outsized ball handlers.

“We’re speaking about an archetype that matches subsequent to heliocentric or heavy choice making wings fairly seamlessly,” Net stated. “Once we consider the Luka Doncic or Cade Cunninghams of the world, you don’t essentially assume it’s important to put a degree guard subsequent to them. You simply load up on choice makers who could make pictures and are versatile defenders who can provide you as many appears as attainable whereas having your world centered round a giant do-it-all wing. Gamers like Bronny match completely in a world the place there are increasingly wings making increasingly playmaking choices. As a result of they may all the time want athletic, energetic defenders who can take a number of assignments.”

There’s a sure veteran who will probably be on the finish of his profession when Bronny is about to enter the league who suits that description, too.

“Bronny is in a number of methods the proper participant to play subsequent to LeBron,” Net stated. “That’s the additional participant that LeBron wanted in Miami to go towards the Spurs. He type of appears crafted in a lab to be the proper teammate for LeBron James.”

As Bronny enters his last season of grassroots ball after which his senior 12 months at Sierra Canyon, he’s more likely to step into a task he hasn’t identified but: main man for his groups. It’s a chance to discover the boundaries of his recreation and take a look at himself towards one of the best of his friends. The following 12 months will probably be crucial of his prep profession.

It’s straightforward to mislabel the skills of a participant whose authorities identify is LeBron James Jr. He doesn’t play something like this dad simply but, however he’s nonetheless exhibiting some foundational expertise that may in the end result in a profitable NBA profession.

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