July 10, 2024 opinion

Bronny James: nature, nurture, or nepotism?

Noah Saphier in New Jersey, United States

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May 25, 2019. Bronny James playing with his father, LeBron James, AAU team Strive For Greatness.

Picture by: Wikipedia

A namesake can be positive, as it is a constant reminder of someone important to one’s parents.

However, it does not always play out the way one’s parents thought it would, oftentimes being a burden to the child to live up to certain expectations.

LeBron James Jr., often called Bronny James, is affected by his namesake in many ways. Being the son of LeBron James, a basketball star for the Los Angeles Lakers and often referred to as the basketball G.O.A.T (greatest of all time), the spotlight has been on Bronny from the very moment that he picked up a basketball to the moment he was drafted into the NBA to the Los Angeles Lakers, the team that his father plays for.

Personally, I am yet to find a social media post or article about Bronny James that does not directly mention, or have mostly negative comments about, his father and Lebron’s influence on the opportunities that are handed to Bronny.

In these posts and articles, many have raised questions to whether Bronny James has earned his position, or if it is a result of nepotism.

Recently, Bronny’s decision to declare for the 2024 NBA draft instead of continuing his college basketball career, leading him to be selected as the 55th pick in the draft to the Lakers and a $7.9mn dollar contract for four years, has garnered significant discussion.

In 2023, LeBron touched on his career winding down, saying, “my last year will be played with my son”. Since then, LeBron has openly shifted his statement a bit, but the questions surrounding the alleged nepotism is legitimate.

I have put my argument showing the signs of nepotism into three categories: college statistics, lack of experience and readiness, and Bronny’s questionable health.


Bronny’s college statistics in his first year of college do not suggest by any means that he would be a thriving NBA player, nor draft-worthy. This season with the University of South California Trojans, Bronny has played in 25 games averaging 4.8 points per game (PPG), 2.8 rebounds (RPG), and 2.1 assists (APG).

Regarding his shooting efficiency, Bronny’s field goal percentage, meaning the percentage of made shots, was 36.6%, with 26.7% behind the three-point line. With these statistics as a point guard and a shooting guard, NBA teams should be asking what good is a shooting guard who can’t shoot or a point guard who can’t move the ball?

On the other hand, Bronny has shined on defense. However, it is important to note that Bronny, despite being listed as 6ft 4in by USC, he measured in at just over 6ft 1in at the NBA combine. Considering the average NBA player is 6ft 6in tall, even if Bronny has shown strengths on defense in the past, it would be difficult to thrive as a defense-first guard in the NBA.

As Bronny was drafted with the 55th overall pick in the 2024 NBA draft, we can compare him to another point guard that was drafted in the 49th overall pick to the Indiana Pacers, Tristen Newton. Compared to Bronny’s statistics, Tristen looks like a much fuller player, especially for a mere difference of six draft picks at the end of the second round. These statistics include 15.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 6.2 APG, shooting 41.5% from the field and 32.1% from behind the three-point line.


Bronny’s sheer lack of experience and development as a basketball player shows that he is not yet ready for the NBA. While LeBron James was drafted to the Cleveland Cavaliers straight out of St. Vincient-St. Mary High School in 2003, he proved that he was out of the ordinary with incredible statistics and highlights: 25.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 55.8% from the field, and 36% from the three point line.

Learn more:

Inside Bronny James' 2024 NBA Draft Combine, and why he could follow path of another Hall of Famer's son

However, with Bronny not playing draft-level basketball in his first year of highschool, all signs point to the fact that he should play more years in college to grow as a player before joining the NBA.

I truly believe that Bronny James has the potential to become a decent NBA player, but why not stay another year and prove that he is ready for a harder challenge in the NBA?


On July 24, 2023, Bronny James collapsed on the basketball court during a practice with USC. It was later learned that he suffered a cardiac arrest, catching the media by storm and leaving many shocked and concerned about the then 18 year-old.

He was then diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, meaning that his heart is structured abnormally. Because of this birth defect, While the top doctors have examined Bronny and have cleared him to continue playing, it is important to know the risk involved, especially as he transitions to becoming a professional athlete.

Put simply, Bronny is putting himself at risk to continue playing, and, more selfishly, the team that drafts him is further risking the value of its pick.
Many athletes suffer from heart problems, with around 15% determining that playing the sport is not worth the health risk. Looking at the past, there have been tragic cases of heart conditions in the basketball scene, such as the death of Loyola Marymount.

Being brutally honest, NBA teams should have seen that Bronny hasn’t proved himself through statistics or experience and overlooking his health issues does not make sense.

Scrolling through Instagram comments about Bronny, I see a lot of old guys who are over the age of any NBA player whining in the comment sections, but also some people writing something like, “but he has LeGenes”. While these people are completely joking, I think that they do have a point.

Throughout his life, not only has Bronny had access to top-tier training and the best opportunities, but he also has LeBron’s genetics. It is reasonable to think that because of his incredible athleticism that he received through his genetics, NBA teams could have felt that he may have a greater upside than others. So, the Lakers may have wanted to draft him not because of his immediate benefits, but rather to facilitate his development as a player.

In addition, Bronny has shown some flair in a recent draft scrimmage with other draft prospects. While in his first scrimmage, he wasn’t noticeable on the court, a later scrimmage was very different.

Bronny put up 13 points, shooting four for 10, with multiple steals. Suddenly, posts about his poor first impression and people noting that he, measuring at 6ft 1in tall with shoes on, looked tiny compared to the others, were pushed aside by new posts which were more optimistic about the future. While this is only the start to something that needs to continue, this is a sign of the possibility that the NBA may boost his development as a player.

However, personally, I am skeptical, as if he cannot stand out in the college scene, how can he do better with the world’s best of the best?

While I am critical about things falling Bronny’s way during the NBA draft and throughout his basketball career, I feel that the proper way to respond is not to push Bronny down, but rather to support him in reaching his full potential.

Bronny had no say in who his father was, even though I’m certain that he feels fortunate to have the great father that LeBron James is. In an interview, when asked if he would name his son LeBron James lll, he laughed, saying, “absolutely not”.

If I, a 16 year-old who is well under 6ft tall and with the sole experience of outdoor recess basketball, had the chance to get drafted into the NBA, I would take it immediately. So, as I scroll through social media and watch his games on television, I will for sure be rooting for number nine on the LA Lakers, Bronny James.

Written by:


Noah Saphier


New Jersey, United States of America

Born in 2007 in New Jersey, Noah Aaron Brühl Saphier studies in Englewood New Jersey, United States of America. He is interested in journalism, science, sports, and history. For Harbingers’ Magazine, he writes about sports, exploration, and global conflicts.

In his free time, Noah plays tennis and the violin, learns about exploration in the ocean and space, and travels. Noah speaks English, Spanish, and German.


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