Bronny James Declares For NBA Draft, Enters Transfer Portal, But His Best Move Is Probably To Stay At USC

Bronny James

Bronny James didn’t have the freshman season he was hoping for at USC. With the prominence of the transfer portal, his limitless NIL possibilities and, of course, the option to roll the dice and go pro, Bronny has entered the portal and declared for the 2024 NBA Draft.

He announced the decision on Instagram on Friday, and instantly became one of the biggest wild cards in all of men’s basketball, college or NBA.

The Trojans went just 15-18 this past season, with Bronny averaging under 20 minutes as a defensive specialist guard who struggled to find his shooting stroke.

Although he’s going to work out for NBA teams and meet with them, I can’t imagine they’ll provide feedback that suggests he’s a draftable prospect. Then again, Bronny was coming off a cardiac arrest and couldn’t train for months while he was recovering. That could go a long way in explaining why he struggled so much at USC. That’s not even to mention how Bronny was part of a stellar backcourt rotation, headlined by fifth-year senior Boogie Ellis, probable impending lottery pick Isaiah Collier and upperclassman Kobe Johnson.

Bronny isn’t your average prospect, though. His father, the GOAT LeBron James, has expressed a desire to play with Bronny at the NBA level. Thus, drafting Bronny might mean an eventual package deal with LeBron, who’s somehow still playing elite basketball in his 21st NBA season.

If he does stay in college, speculation is flying that Bronny would go to Duquesne. The Dukes just made it to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. LeBron’s high school coach, Keith Dembrot, was at the helm of that Cinderella squad and just retired. The reins were handed from Dembrot to Dru Joyce, a high school teammate of LeBron’s, who The King is stumping for to his many millions of followers.

You might say the writing is on the wall. On the other hand, LeBron said recently before Bronny announced his intentions that his son “is his own man” and that he’ll be supported no matter what.

If Bronny really wants to be his own man, I see no better avenue than for him to stick it out at USC. Despite the James family’s near-limitless wealth and resources, a big move does create some logistical issues, and Bronny already has what I assume is a world-class setup in LA, with his father close enough by to keep mentoring him as he realizes his potential as a player. Moving all the way to Pittsburgh to attend Duquesne sounds like a bit of a drag by comparison.

And I don’t just say that in terms of making a cross-country move. The Trojans just hired one of the best pure coaches in all of basketball in ex-Arkansas boss Eric Musselman.

Musselman led the Razorbacks to two straight Elite Eight appearances and a Sweet 16 before things went a little sideways this past season. Musselman is a firecracker of a personality who’s known to celebrate big wins shirtless, has a resume that includes college and NBA experience, and is heralded by many for his ability to develop players.

One of the drawbacks to Bronny’s game is he can be a little too unselfish. Not to say that he isn’t a good facilitator with good court vision, but he could be more attack-minded at times. You know who else used to fit that general description? Bear with me here: Jeremy Lin. Before he broke out on his Linsanity run with the New York Knicks, Lin credited Musselman for helping him turn a corner and, implicitly, be more assertive, per this Ridiculous Upside article from February 2012:

“I went to the D-League three times last year and once this year. Without that time, I definitely wouldn’t be the player I am right now…Last year when I played with Coach Musselman, he gave me the opportunity to play through mistakes. […] I’m still making a lot of mistakes, but being able to play through that and build on my confidence and grow as a player was the best thing that could’ve happened…and that wouldn’t have happened without the D-League.”

I think it says a lot, too, that Isaiah Collier is almost certain to be drafted in the lottery, yet was in attendance for Musselman’s introductory press conference today. A case of real recognizing real. Bronny might get more playing time at Duquesne, but having personally witnessed the Dukes in the A10 conference tournament final, that team was not very good. Just being honest. Musselman isn’t going to coddle Bronny. What he will do is coach the hell out of him, and given that Musselman traditionally likes an uptempo attack and a pressing, aggressive defense, that style of play should accentuate Bronny’s strengths and also, perhaps, get him playing more instinctive.

Bronny wasn’t the greatest perimeter shooter entering college, but the rust after his long layoff didn’t help. Consider that in the 2023 McDonald’s All-American Game, Bronny canned five 3-pointers for 15 points to go with four assists and two steals in a super uptempo thriller that saw the West win 109-106 over Bronny’s East team. He did that against the best talent entering the college ranks.

I feel like Musselman presents Bronny with such a good fit if he just hangs with USC and is an ideal catalyst to take his game to new heights. Remaining with the Trojans in LA is, in my opinion, the best move for Bronny in the long run. After a full season under Musselman’s tutelage, Bronny can enter the 2025 NBA Draft with a much more realistic chance of hearing his name called on draft night.

Speaking of drafts, check out my latest 2024 NFL Mock Draft.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock