The Australian National Basketball League could receive a seismic boost in 2023 with the son of NBA future Hall of Famer LeBron James considering a move down under.
James is one of the greatest players to ever grace the NBA and there are considerable debates over whether he or Michael Jordan lay claim to the title of the Greatest of all Time.
His son Bronny is a chip off the old block and is expected to make his NBA debut in 2024. He is currently in high school and will have one year of development before he is expected to nominate for the NBA draft.
Bronny is LeBron James’ eldest child and has a huge NBA future of his own ahead of him
And that year of development could be in Australia, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon has reported.
‘Bronny, in the fall of 2023, will either be in college, with G League Ignite or in Australia… or wherever [agent] Rich Paul places him, ‘Vardon wrote.
Adding to the possibility is the fact that no NCAA college has made a hard push for the rising star of a basketball legend, despite the hype and financial incentives he would bring.
Bronny lines up for a three-point shot for Sierra Canyon in his senior year at high school
Director of scouting at 247 Sports and CBS presenter on NBA Insider Adam Finkelstein said automatic assumptions that Bronny would join the NCAA system could be proved incorrect.
‘I think the perception is that Bronny James is not going to play college basketball. That is not fact by any stretch, ‘he said.
‘But as you sit in a college coaches’ section and you just kind of hear what coaches are saying about this, I haven’t heard anyone who’s said, “Yeah, we’re making a hard push for Bronny”.’
LeBron James, left, poses with his son Bronny after Sierra Canyon beat Akron St. Vincent – St. Mary in a high school basketball game in 2019
The G League Ignite is a developmental basketball team that was added to the second-tier league to the NBA in 2020 with the aim of fast-tracking talented players who wish to bypass college.
Australian Dyson Daniels played for the Ignite before he was selected at pick No.8 by the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2022 NBA Draft.
The Next Stars program was launched by the NBL in 2018 to fast track the development of the next stars of the NBA in a highly competitive men’s league in a bid to lure rising stars – like Bronny – to Australia.
Daniels was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans after playing for G League Ignite
Under the US college system, rising stars play against contemporaries and do not get paid. In the Next Stars program they face off against Australian Boomers, former NBA stars and some of the best men’s talent in the tier below the NBA in the world.
Adding to the attraction, Next Stars players are paid $ 50,000 USD and receive accommodation, a car and all of their individualized training and development, making it a highly attractive alternative to NCAA basketball.
Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball is a high profile graduate of the Next Stars program with the Illawarra Hawks and he became the youngest ever player to score a triple double in the NBL before he was the No.3 overall selection in the 2020 NBA draft.
LaMelo Ball was the first big name to sign up for the NBL’s Next Stars program and shattered records in the league as an 18-year-old (top) before he was drafted by Charlotte in the NBA
Orlando Magic point guard RJ Hampton and former New Zealand Breaker and French guard Ousmane Dieng – who was selected at No. 11 by the Oklahoma City Thunder in this year’s NBA draft – are other notable Next Star graduates.
It would be a huge coup for the Australian NBL, not just because of LeBron’s profile, but because Bronny himself already has a following of over 6.4 million people himself on Instagram.
‘Interesting. Let’s see what happens NBL is a legitimate pathway to draft and NBA, ‘one fan posted.
‘He will actually learn to play basketball in the NBL,’ posted another.
‘With the all big USA owners buying into NBL team things like this is bound to happen eventually,’ suggested another
Earlier in the year, Kings owner Paul Smith declared Sydney would be the only Australian capital big enough to host the James family.
‘There’s only one city that’s big enough for LeBron and Bronny, and that’s Sydney. We’d fill 18,000 seats every week, ‘Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald.
James Snr is hoping to have a final season in the NBA playing in the same team as his son
LeBron James has made his intentions of playing a final NBA season in the same team as his son Bronny well known, whether that be at the Lakers or another side.
If Bronny were to play in the NBL, he would then enter the NBA draft and hopefully join his father on the court on the big stage.
‘The LeBron-Bronny-teammates thing is real. With this being the modern NBA and stars forcing their way off teams, regardless of contract value or length, anything is possible when it comes to 2024, Vardon wrote.