May 14, 2024; Chicago, IL, USA; Bronny James talks to the media during the 2024 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

By this point, it’s been well established that Bronny James is the most famous prospect in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Which makes it all the more curious that nobody in the sports media ecosystem seems to know how to discuss the 19-year-old guard in the context of him being an NBA prospect.

Ever since James first declared for the draft in April, there has been no shortage of speculation, information and misinformation regarding his NBA outlook. And that figures to continue throughout the next month with the news that LeBron James’ oldest son will remain in the draft rather than returning to the college ranks.

Yet despite Bronny being the most analyzed prospect in this year’s class, no one seems to know what range he’s most likely to be selected in. Draft projections and reporting have pegged him as anywhere between a late-first-round pick to a late-second-round pick, if not undrafted altogether.

How is that possible?

Let’s just it out of the way right now: truth be told, there isn’t much in Bronny James’ profile that suggests he is an NBA Draft prospect.

Coming out of high school, he ranked as the nation’s No. 22 prospect according to the 247Sports composite — a strong ranking, to be sure, but hardly one indicative of a surefire one-and-done college player. To put James’ recruiting ranking in perspective from an NBA Draft standpoint, 12 of the 21 prospects ranked ahead of him opted to return to college for their sophomore seasons.

That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions; Pitt point guard Carlton Carrington ranked as the No. 119 prospect in 247Sports’ composite and now solidly projects as a first-round pick. But Carrington also enjoyed an impressive freshman season and possesses upside as a 6-foot-5 point guard — two traits James lacks as a prospect.

After overcoming suffering from cardiac arrest last summer — which shouldn’t be taken lightly — James’ freshman campaign at USC was hardly noteworthy, as he averaged 4.8 points on 36.6 percent shooting (26.7 percent from 3-point range), 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 25 games. And while there are other prospects who have overcome underwhelming college careers and still found themselves being selected in the first round (especially in the one-and-done era), those players typically had either a stronger recruiting pedigree or better measurables than James, who measured at 6-foot-1½ without shoes at the NBA Scouting Combine after being listed at 6-foot-4 at USC.

Speaking of the combine, it’s worth noting that despite his measurements, James did play well with strong showings in shooting drills and scrimmages. Still, it’s worth wondering why nobody in the NBA media seems to be mentioning that there’s very little in his traditional draft profile — from recruiting ranking to college stats to his size — that suggests he’s an NBA prospect, even in a weak class.

Of course, this is where who James’ father is comes into play.

Even if he doesn’t profile as a traditional draft pick, Bronny is at least intriguing enough as a prospect to garner NBA interest on his own. But it seems disingenuous to not acknowledge that most of the conversation surrounding him as a prospect actually centers around what his selection might mean for his father’s NBA future, as the older James is expected to become a free agent this summer.

While LeBron and Bronny’s agent, Rich Paul, has attempted to downplay the idea of the two teaming up, his actions have told a different story. Despite publicly portraying Bronny as a fringe second-round pick willing to make a name for himself outside of his father’s shadow, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Tuesday that he is only expected to workout for a “few teams,” including the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns.

At this point, Bronny winding up on the Lakers seems like something that everyone will proclaim as obvious, even though it isn’t something that’s being regularly discussed during most television segments regarding his draft status. Instead, such conversations have often centered around propping up Bronny as a draft prospect, with ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins seemingly being the only analyst to call attention to the nepotism aspect of the story.

“We’re talking about a guy, a young man that’s possibly gonna go late second-round or not getting drafted at all,” Perkins said on NBA Today earlier this month. “In my four years of working here, I’ve never sat on the table talking about a second-round pick.”

Perkins’ comments stood out, not only because it’s a belief shared by most fans at home, but it’s also something most other analysts don’t seem willing to say. Ultimately, who Bronny’s father is isn’t just a part of his story as a draft prospect, it’s the primary stor. And yet, it somehow seems to have been an afterthought in most of the coverage.

That’s not to say that nepotism is the only thing working in Bronny’s favor and he obviously wouldn’t be the first NBA player to benefit from who he’s related to. But Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Isaiah Mobley also weren’t the highest profile prospects in their respective draft classes, nor were their potential selections seen as key moves in mapping out the rest of the NBA offseason.

At this point, there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding Bronny’s draft outlook, even if the end game of him winding up with the Lakers seems like an obvious one. What is certain, however, is that for whatever reason, people are having a tough time contextualizing the draft’s most famous prospect — with the lone exception perhaps being Kendrick Perkins.

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.