Bronny James selected by Lakers with No. 55 pick (2024)

NEW YORK — Years of speculation have finally ended. Bronny James, the eldest son of Lakers star LeBron James, indeed has a home in the NBA, on his father’s team.

Bronny James, one of the most highly scrutinized amateur basketball players of the last decade, was taken 55th overall Thursday night in the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. The selection capped 12 long months of guessing about James’ place in the game, which included questions about whether he could compete professionally following a cardiac arrest.

“My dream has always just been to put my name out, make a name for myself, and, of course, get to the NBA,” James said at the NBA Draft Combine in May.

Bronny: Los Angeles Laker. pic.twitter.com/TvhkzEs9sO

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 27, 2024

The Lakers went 47-35 last season, falling to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. LeBron averaged 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists in his 21st season. He has until Saturday to extend his current agreement with the Lakers, or he could opt out and sign a new deal as a free agent in July. The max new deal he could sign is for three years, $162 million.

Bronny went pro after just one year at Southern California, where he averaged 4.8 points and 19.3 minutes in 25 games and had trouble with his shooting touch. He came to college as the 17th-best prospect in his high school class, according to consensus rankings, yet even as he struggled he carried the allure of his father’s stated dream to one day play together in the NBA.

That idea had been thrown into serious question one year ago. James collapsed during a USC practice last July with a cardiac arrest caused by a congenital heart defect. He was hospitalized about two days and quickly, the James family said it was confident he would recover. Yet James himself said at the combine last month that the episode had rattled him, with an enduring effect.

Bronny James is selected 55th overall by the @Lakers in the 2024 #NBADraft presented by State Farm!

Watch the Second Round on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/BnxozT7CGj

— NBA (@NBA) June 27, 2024

“It’s still lingering,” he said. “I feel like my parents were a big factor in believing in me and giving me the love and affection that I needed at that time. But I still think about everything that could happen. I just love the game so much.”

James’ improved health and his presence on the court reinvigorated discussions about whether he was talented enought to be drafted. That conversation in basketball circles and beyond took on a new dimension when LeBron James said two years ago that he wanted to finish his career with father and son together on the same team. “My last year will be played with my son,” LeBron James said as the Lakers visited the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that drafted him at age 18 in 2003.

“Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year,” LeBron James said in February 2022.

Bronny James selected by Lakers with No. 55 pick (1)

LeBron James plays with his sons Bryce and now-teammate Bronny during the 2010 All-Star weekend. (Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Since then, Bronny has had that hope stapled to his prospects. Teams and media speculated about how James’ draft stock might be influenced by his father’s desires. The easy, frequent question: Would a team draft Bronny as a means to lure LeBron?

Bronny James worked out only for two teams, the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers. Rich Paul, his agent at Klutch Sports, said James would not sign a two-way contract, a common move for developing players.

James has said he believed he would be drafted on his own merits.

These two are now teammates in the NBA.@KingJames x Bronny | @Lakers pic.twitter.com/MyWiJ8tfaW

— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) June 27, 2024

“This is a serious business, and I don’t feel like there would be a thought of ‘I’m just drafting this kid just because I’m going to get his dad,’” he said last month. “I don’t think a GM would really allow that.”

He added: “I’ve put in the work and I would get drafted because of not only the player but the person that I am.”

Now, James has that place in the NBA and the chance like many of his peers to show he can build up his own career and name. It is all he has ever asked for.

Required reading

  • NBA Draft 2024 live updates
  • Bronny James staying in 2024 NBA Draft, agent says

(Photo: Jeff Haynes / NBAE via Getty Images)

Bronny James selected by Lakers with No. 55 pick (2)Bronny James selected by Lakers with No. 55 pick (3)

Mike Vorkunov is the national basketball business reporter for The Athletic. He covers the intersection of money and basketball and covers the sport at every level. He previously spent three-plus seasons as the New York Knicks beat writer. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeVorkunov

Bronny James selected by Lakers with No. 55 pick (2024)

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