Thursday, May 23, 2024

2024 NBA Draft Combine takeaways: Bronny James bounces back as LeBron watches, Adem Bona stars in scrimmages

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CHICAGO — The second and final day of scrimmage sessions at the 2024 NBA Draft Combine wrapped-up Wednesday with a bang as Bronny James, Nikola Đurišić and Coleman Hawkins all bounced back from tough days Tuesday in the 5-on-5 portion of action. 

James finished tied as the game’s leading scorer in the second of two scrimmages with 13 points in a 90-83 win for Team St. Andrews in front of LeBron James and Savannah James, who made their way to Wintrust Arena and had a front-row seat for the action. Team Love’s Jamal Shead and Trey Alexander also had 13 points each in the loss.

Đurišić was much more comfortable Wednesday than he was Tuesday as he finished with a game-high 12 field-goal attempts and tallied three boards, two assists and one steal to boot. After playing timid in the opening day of scrimmages he played more assertively and made several nice plays, including some live-action passing reads that popped and a smooth lefty floater that found the bottom of the bucket.

Here are four takeaways from the day — leading with the man of the hour in the Windy City.

LeBron James and his wife, Savannah, witnessed Bronny star in a scrimmage.
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1. Bronny gets going in final scrimmage

On Tuesday, James had a mostly forgettable outing in his scrimmage showing, finishing 2-of-8 from the floor and 0-of-4 from 3-point range propped up by a pair of steals and some good defensive flashes. On Wednesday, it turned into a bit of a James family celebration. In front of LeBron and Savannah, Bronny had 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting, made two 3-pointers and added two steals. 

He had back-to-back makes in catch-and-shoot situations early in the game – one in the mid-range and one from 3-point range – then moments later delivered a beautiful pocket pass to a cutting Alex Karaban. That drew some oohs and aahs within the crowd, including from The King himself sitting in the row behind me, who shouted, “Good passssss!”

The height measurement for Bronny to start the week wasn’t ideal but he has had a solid week overall in Chicago to boost his stock a bit. He’s not a first-round prospect right now but he’s draftable, and he showed some real stuff with his floor game this week to be worth an investment for a team. We’ll see what that looks like next month and whether that comes to fruition playing in Los Angeles or elsewhere.

2. Bona’s stock is soaring 

The chiseled chest and broad shoulders of UCLA’s Adem Bona are hard to miss on the hardwood, but his game Wednesday helped him stand out all the more. He made all three shots from the floor and finished with 10 points in an efficient offensive outing, but it was his defense that really stood out. In the second scrimmage he added eight boards and a big-time block above the rim in emphatic fashion. His game is fairly limited in terms of what it is now — and maybe even what it will become — but Bona’s big frame and strong performance shouted volumes in competition. He’s a fierce competitor who can be a menace around the rim defensively and finish lobs with authority. He’s moving up after this week. 

3. Scheierman continues momentum

One of the big winners of Tuesday at the combine was also one of the big winners of Wednesday with Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman picking up where he left off in the scrimmage sessions. Scheierman had an efficient nine points on four shots in the final scrimmage and was active on both ends, with his defense in particular adding an impact. He didn’t put up the same counting stats Wednesday as he did Tuesday but it was a complete two-way showing from him that again backed up a big week and boosted his stock in Chicago.

4. Freeman caps big week

Akron’s Enrique Freeman was one of the many players who boosted their stock after finishing with 12 points, three steals and a block — just a day after turning in 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He had 11 fouls between the two games so it wasn’t a perfect week for him, but after earning a combine invite after the G League Elite Camp, it was almost a week that didn’t happen at all. He capitalized on his big opportunity and should be moving up with some of the others as his strong predraft process continues. 

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