Why Bronny James-LeBron James Pairing May Have To Wait

USC Trojans freshman Bronny James, a former four-star prospect out of Sierra Canyon School in the San Fernando Valley, has been dealing with perhaps unfair expectations ever since he picked up a basketball. The 6’4″ combo guard has yet to truly blossom with the Cardinal and Gold. The team, too, despite boasting a highly-regarded recruiting class, hasn’t performed up to expectations. It finished its regular season with a 14-17 overall record (8-12 in the Pac-12 Conference).


Bronny’s dad, All-Star Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, has made no secret of the fact that he wants to one day play alongside his son on an NBA court. They’ve even appeared on a Sports Illustrated cover together, along with Bronny’s little brother Bryce, in an article where LeBron reiterated his desire to play with both his kids. But, as John Hollinger of The Athletic notes, it appears that Bronny James will need additional NCAA seasoning, and is currently considered too raw a prospect for the league at large.

To note that Bronny’s offense hasn’t really blossomed would be a bit of an understatement. Through 23 games this season (six starts), Bronny is averaging a meager 4.8 points on a .371/.278/.621 slash line, 2.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 0.7 steals in 19.3 minutes per. Not exactly All-Pac-12 numbers.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 06: Bronny James #6 of the USC Trojans greets his dad, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, before the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Galen Center on January… MEG OLIPHANT/GETTY IMAGES

Still, there have been marginal signs of improvement as the year has progressed, in fits and starts. The younger James has shown plenty of athletic promise on defense. His offensive bag, too, has started to look a bit better. That includes, yes, some long-range sniping. He had a particularly impressive trey during a surprise 78-65 win over the No. 5-seeded Arizona Wildcats on Saturday:

Bronny ultimately scored a whopping five total points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field. But he played a grand total of 19 minutes on the floor, primarily thanks to his efforts on the other side of the hardwood, as Hollinger notes. Bronny pulled down six boards, all defensive, and swiped two steals. He’s impressing his head coach, if not most draftniks, who generally don’t think he’s a real prospect for the 60-person class of 2024.

“This is the best Bronny has played in a while,” Trojans head coach Andy Enfield said. “He hit that big 3 at the end of the first half to give us some momentum. He was terrific in all aspects, he really defended, and all of those rebounds were at or above rim level, out of his area.”

Bronny may have underwhelmed during his debut collegiate season. But that’s okay. Fans and media alike need to appreciate that it’s unfair to expect him to ever become his dad on the hardwood, although he could still enjoy a long and successful pro career.

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