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Agent Rich Paul: Bronny James’ 2024 NBA draft decision based on team interest

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 24 USC at UCLA

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: USC Trojans guard Bronny James (6) during a college basketball game against the UCLA Bruins on February 24, 2024 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There’s a fascinating story about the top of the 2024 NBA Draft and who will go in the first few picks — there is no consensus. There should be a lively debate on social media about whether Alex Starr (the French big man playing in Australia), Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Colorado’s Cody Williams, or Zaccharie Risacher (from and playing in France) should be the No. 1 pick. We should be discussing who are the sleepers in this draft.

Instead, much of the spotlight is focused on Bronny James, the USC freshman and son of LeBron James, with the discussion being about whether he should enter the 2024 NBA Draft or stay in college. That’s not on Bronny, he’s got a difficult decision to make, one a number of players are having around the nation about whether to enter this draft. Bronny is just the one doing it under a microscope.

Where Bronny might fall in the draft matters less than getting him to the right situation, his agent Rich Paul told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

“I don’t value a young player getting into the lottery as much as I do getting him on the right team in the right developmental situation,” the agent for James’ father, LeBron James, told ESPN on Saturday.

Allow me a few thoughts on this entire situation.

• Bronny James is not going in the lottery this year.

• What Paul said is what any good agent should say — fit matters more than anything. That’s about a team’s style of play and whether it meshes with the potential draftee. It’s about a roster and a place where he is not stuck behind too many players and not getting minutes, and it’s about a coach and a franchise good at developing talent.

• Is Bronny James ready for the NBA? Is being in the league the best place to further develop his game? I’m not a scout and not going to pretend to know the answer. Judging the potential of NBA prospects is as much art as science.

Bronny is averaging 5 points a game on 37% shooting, plus adding 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists a night coming off the bench for a USC team sitting 11th in the Pac-12 and not headed to the NCAA Tournament (barring a surprise Pac-12 Tournament run). League sources familiar with his game speaking to NBC Sports like Bronny’s potential athletically, his defense and his work ethic — he is a grinder, not someone coming in expecting his name to carry him — but think he could benefit from more time in college (especially considering the cardiac episode he had last summer). That said, the question of whether an NBA team could develop him faster is a fair one to ask, but that ultimately goes back to the previous bullet point about fit.

• If Bronny does enter the draft he would almost certainly be selected, although more likely in the second round. How much of that would be about the hope to lure his father to play with his son — or, in the case of the Lakers, to keep LeBron happy — is up for debate.

• This is a hard decision where Bronny, his entire family, and Paul need to sit down and figure out what is best for the young man. There are no easy answers here and things can get emotional. What ultimately matters most is what’s best for Bronny the person first, Bronny the basketball player second. It’s an added pressure to make that decision in the spotlight that shines on Bronny.

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