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Baby Ballers: Scouting the Top-5 NBA Kids Ahead of Thursday’s Draft

Getty Images
Getty Images

It’s been a busy week in the James household: While the elder LeBron enjoyed some modest professional success, it was reported that the star of the family, 11-year-old LeBron Jr., has earned scholarships to Duke and Kentucky, adding to the interest he famously garnered from Ohio State coach Thad Matta two years ago. The 2023 prospect has become a hot commodity in the recruiting world, and if he were eligible for Thursday’s draft, it’s not inconceivable that a franchise would roll the dice on him.

But Bronny, as he’s apparently known, isn’t the only NBA offspring turning heads on the hardwood. In fact, there’s enough adolescent talent for a top-5 mock draft, so we decided to go full Chad Ford on these youngsters.

1. Philadelphia 76ers: Zaire Wade (Son of Dwyane)

I actually think most NBA teams would take Zaire over his declining father right now. The 14-year-old has been the class of 2020’s crown jewel since fifth grade, when the esteemed scouts at Middle School Elite touted his 3-point range and “superstar qualities.” His dazzling performance at February’s prestigious John Lucas Camp was enough to merit a standalone mixtape, and even ostensibly impartial referees can’t help but appreciate his skills:

Now-departed GM Sam Hinkie’s much-maligned Process will be more than justified if the Sixers end up with young Zaire.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Samartine “Fatman” Bogues (Grandson of Muggsy)

The Lakers may already have their point guard of the future in D’Angelo Russell, but that shouldn’t keep them from pulling a David Kahn and locking up the 4-foot-6 Fatman — best player available, baby! The 11-year-old made headlines in September for his devastating handle, and with good reason:

Additionally, his first-rate nickname is a sure sign of future NBA greatness. The Bogues family knows how to give out sobriquets.

3. Boston Celtics: Jaxon Williams (Son of Jason)

White Chocolate Jr. is a carbon copy of his dad, which is to say he’s an assist machine with an affinity for no-look passes. Moreover, the 13-year-old knows no mercy, evidenced by the time he led his middle school team to a 100-point victory:

Even if he’s as turnover prone as Jason was, I’m confident that Brad Stevens will coach up his ball security. Besides, Jaxon’s incredible raw talent is worth the risk.

4. Phoenix Suns: Nick Young Jr. (Son of Swaggy P)

Because traveling is rarely called in the NBA, Nick Jr.’s game projects well to the pros:

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if he can avoid the pitfalls of being secretly taped by teammates.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Riley Curry (Daughter of Steph)

Our own Claire McNear may be done with her, but the upstart Wolves need a media-savvy superstar to round out their young core, and Riley fits the bill. Tom Thibodeau will have her playing big minutes from day one, and as the first female player in NBA history, she’d make every Wolves game appointment viewing. It’s time for young Riley to make a name for herself and stop resting on daddy’s laurels.