Can Celtics Land Bronny James? How Oddsmakers View Draft Match

The 2024 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 26-27


May 29, 2024

Bronny James, son of future Basketball Hall of Famer LeBron James, intends to stand pat after declaring for June’s NBA draft, posing a forthcoming question: could the Boston Celtics get in the mix?

The Celtics own the rights to two selections — No. 30 and No. 54 — in one of the more mundane drafts in recent years. After prospects Donovan Clingan (UConn) and Alex Sarr (NBL, France), the list of notable names in the 2024 class quickly slims down, putting James in a position up in the air. Does a team take a shot in the dark and welcome the 19-year-old with only six starts of collegiate experience? That could possibly open up the chance for the same team to sign the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, too. Or does James fall deep into the dark waters of the second round where a team like Boston is left picking through scraps?

Interest has followed the 6-foot-1 prospect out of USC, but there’s a short list of teams getting to meet James for an in-person workout ahead of draft night. James reportedly declined eight of 10 scheduled workouts, accepting invitations only from the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic. Signs of a calculated plan by James and Klutch Sports — the agency representing LeBron — are as clear as day.

So… it should come as no surprise that the Celtics are seen as a long shot at welcoming James to TD Garden next season.

Here’s how the (nepotism-hindered) odds to land James on draft night are shaping out, per FanDuel Sportsbook:
— Los Angeles Lakers (+160)
— Utah Jazz (+1100)
— Cleveland Cavaliers (+1500)
— Philadelphia 76ers (+2000)
— New York Knicks (+2000)
— Oklahoma City Thunder (+2200)
— Miami Heat (+2200)
— Golden State Warriors (+2500)
— Los Angeles Clippers (+2500)
— Boston Celtics, listed 19th among all teams in the NBA (+5000)

“Bronny’s (draft) range is wide,” Klutch Sports CEO and agent Rich Paul told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “He’s a really good prospect who has a lot of room for growth. It only takes one team. I don’t care where that team is — it can be No. 1 or 58 — (but) I do care about the plan, the development. The team’s strategy, the opportunity and the financial commitment. That’s why I’m not doing a two-way deal. Every team understands that.”

James averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists, shooting 36.6% from the field, 26.7% from 3-point range and 67.6% at the charity stripe, playing in 25 games total for the Trojans. During a team practice on July 24, James suffered a cardiac arrest, was hospitalized for three days, and wasn’t cleared to play again until four months after the incident.

Understanding that his NBA potential relies on athleticism, facilitating, and defensive perseverance, James listed Boston’s current backcourt duo of Jrue Holiday and Derrick White as a model player comparison.

“Just guys that excel in their role, you know, get good money and get good playing time from it,” James told reporters at the draft combine earlier this month, per Dan Woike of Yahoo Sports. “Because they are locked into that role and know what they’re supposed to do.”

Boston, and everyone else around the league, will make its selections starting on June 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET from Barclays Center in New York.

Thumbnail photo via David Banks/USA TODAY Sports Images

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