The 2024 NBA Draft doesn’t have a can’t-miss prospect, but Bronny James has been hyped as such.

It’s only natural given he’s LeBron James’ son. But it’s made for outlandish highlight clips of talking heads talking up Bronny James, who is projected to be a second-round pick at best, over potential lottery picks like Alex Sarr and Donovan Clingan.

James was on the Celtics’ radar after ESPN had Boston picking the former USC guard 54th overall in its post-combine mock draft. That selection is one ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers, which irked Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday.

“So much of what’s transpiring seems so transparent, it’s insulting,” Smith said. “Bronny James is ranked 98th on the talent pool. He goes to the NBA combine and it drops 44 slots to 54. And the Lakers have the 55th pick in the second round. I mean, really? He didn’t drop 38 slots, to 58 or 60. He didn’t drop 50 slots to 48. Oh no. Right around the number where the Lakers get the pick.”

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For what it’s worth, Bleacher Report ranked James 55th overall, and The Ringer ranked him 69th overall. So ESPN’s ranking wasn’t too outside of the field.

Smith also highlighted how J.J. Reddick is a leading candidate to be the next Lakers coach in the same year he launched a podcast with LeBron James.

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“I guess one plus one really does equal four. I mean, it’s just the math. You can’t make this stuff up,” Smith said. “At some point in time, it’s like too much looks too damn obvious. And so I look at Bronny James and I’m like, ‘Man I’m rooting for this kid. Great kid. Wish him nothing for the best. Wonderful family, wonderful kid, all of that other stuff.’ But when stuff like this happens, it just invites cynicism and skepticism. And that’s totally unfair to that kid, because he did nothing to warrant that.”

That “cynicism and skepticism” gets compounded when there are reports of teams considering drafting Bronny James in an effort to sign LeBron James, who has a player option this offseason since there is a feeling the Lakers superstar wants to play on the same team as his son.

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Bronny James and his agent Rich Paul, who also represents his father, seem to be taking the draft process all the way through before he decides if he wants to go back to college and see where the transfer portal takes him. That only means the NBA draft coverage around him will continue as will the Lakers speculation.

Featured image via David Banks/USA TODAY Sports Images