New comments from Bronny James show he understands his NBA future

Bronny James has seen his NBA Draft stock plummet over the past year. But he's still headed for the NBA and he understands exactly what that means.
USC v Arizona
USC v Arizona / David Becker/GettyImages

Bronny James' NBA trajectory has changed a lot over the past year. He arrived at USC for his freshman year as one of the most highly ranked recruits in the class, a presumptive lottery pick with the added boost of rumors LeBron wanted to play with his son in the NBA to boost his draft stock.

A scary heart cardiac arrest incident in July interrupted his preparation for his freshman season and he wasn't cleared to play for a decent chunk of the season. He eventually returned to play 25 games for USC, averaging 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, shooting under 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from beyond the arc. There was plenty of disorganization in the USC program but, when he announced that he was both entering the transfer portal and tentatively declaring for the NBA Draft at the end of the season things looked very different.

Almost no mock drafts are still projecting Bronny as a first-round pick and there's a decent chance he would go undrafted if it wasn't for his family connection, should he decide to stay in the draft. He helped himself quite a bit at the combine — although he measured at just 6-foot-1.5 in shoes, his wingspan, vertical leap and performance in the shooting drills were very impressive. Regardless of whether he stays in the draft or decides to return to college and find a new home by transferring, he no longer looks like a prospect headed for NBA stardom.

But Bronny seems to understand that, which is extremely encouraging.

Bronny James already knows what the right NBA role is for him

In those comments, Bronny has, intentionally or not, identified a perfect range of possible outcomes for him given his skills and physical tools. Davion Mitchell seems like the floor — a solid bench player who pairs aggressive pressure and point-of-attack defense with reasonable outside shooting and a small measure of complementary creation.

Derrick White has taken an enormous leap this year but looking at the arc of his career we have a player who provides similar things to Mitchell but at a higher level — more defensive versatility, better shooting, enough complementary creation to fill in as a second-unit point guard. Holiday, again, across his career, is the ceiling — an All-Star but not All-NBA talent, a starting point guard on a competitive team, a reliable all-around offensive engine and elite defensive performance.

It's encouraging to hear that Bronny doesn't compare himself to players whose primary contributions are on offense and that he doesn't see himself as an All-NBA caliber player who defines a team's roster. He is a complementary talent, one with two-way upside that can fill in the holes around a variety of stars. And these comparisons feel plausible even down to the physical measurements — his height and wingspan are almost identical to Mitchell and while he'd need to grow two or three inches to measure up with White or Holiday, that's not outside the realm of possibility for a 19-year-old and far less of a problem in comparisons than, say, completely ignoring shooting in comparing Donovan Clingan to Brook Lopez.

Bronny is going to play in the NBA, whether it's next year or in the future. And it's clear he's headed toward the experience with exactly the right mindset.

Subscribe. The Whiteboard Subscribe CTA. The Whiteboard, FanSided's daily NBA email newsletter. dark