Former NBA All-Star Fires Back at Bronny James’ Critics

Amock draft is just that, and rarely ever predicts how the actual draft pans out. Yet, when ESPN published its updated 2024 NBA Mock Draft — with one notable exclusion — on February 20, the internet went bonkers. Even LeBron James joined the discourse, imploring the media and the fans to let his “kid be a kid and enjoy college basketball” rather than burdening him with expectations.

LeBron James' son Bronny James rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest

Will Bronny James return to USC for a sophomore year? Or will he declare for the 2024 NBA Draft? While that decision is Bronny and his family’s to make, scores of analysts and former players have been chiming in with their views.

Now, former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury has come to the defense of Bronny, firing back at scouts who feel the 19-year-old isn’t ready to transition to the pros. Marbury believes Bronny’s stat line of 5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the USC Trojans is not an accurate representation of his talents.

“First, I think Bronny is a pro,” Marbury told “Balls Don’t Stop” on March 4. “He’s playing 20 minutes, which is like half the game in college. He needs to play more to be able to make more mistakes and to have the opportunity to really show his ability.”

Marbury: Staying in College ‘Not a Bad Thing’

While hyping up Bronny, Marbury referenced NBA legend Allen Iverson who spent multiple years in college before making the pros.

“Playing two years in college is not a bad thing,” Marbury continued. “I think his ability to get to the basket, shoot the ball, pass the ball… one of the most impressive things is his shot-blocking. I think all of that is grade A. You can’t go by how many points he’s scoring. You can’t really go by the statistics.

“When I look him at as a [potential] NBA player, he has all of the qualities. He’s 6’4″, 210 [pounds], strong, and he will get stronger and better. He has all the equipment and the tools. Once he puts all of those things together, I think he’ll be fine.”

To Marbury’s point, many of the NBA’s all-time greats spent multiple years in college. Among the current crop of All-Stars, the likes of Damian Lillard (four years), Stephen Curry (three years), Jimmy Butler (three years) and Ja Morant (two years) needed multiple seasons of collegiate experience before declaring for the NBA Draft. Jalen Brunson, for example, ranked very low in most mock drafts and scouts leaderboards, dropping to the second round in 2018 despite winning two college titles. As such, Bronny could very well prove a lot of his detractors wrong over the next few years.

Bronny James to Make Informed Decision

While Marbury, Kendrick Perkins and several others have urged Bronny to remain in college for another year, Rich Paul — the agent of James — has made it clear that his client’s son will bide him team before rushing to a decision.

According to Paul, per ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on March 2, Bronny plans to “weigh” his decision based on “specific team interest” and getting to the “right developmental situation” rather than just entering the draft for the sake of it.

The two-day NBA Draft will take place on June 26 and June 27. Bronny’s USC Trojans have just two games left in their season — against Arizona State on March 7 and Arizona on March 9 — before they enter the PAC-12 tournament.

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