Bronny James starts in his summer debut with the Lakers

In his highly anticipated NBA summer league debut, Lakers second-round draft pick Bronny James took his first step toward shedding the nepotism draft label.

With many naysayers’ expectations for his first game shaped by skepticism surrounding his drafting, he proved them right on paper, at least for one game.

Bronny James was quiet on offense but efficient on defense, finishing with four points, two assists and two rebounds in 22 minutes as the Lakers lost 108-94 to the Sacramento Kings at the Chase Center on Saturday.

While his debut was not the most impressive, James flashed signs of NBA-level talent, showcasing his energy, hustle and athleticism.

Donning purple and gold for the first time, the 19-year-old James started at guard. During pregame introductions, he received a warm welcome from the crowd, many excited to see what he would bring — the majority of which were Warriors fans with a smattering of Lakers fans.

While a magnet for hatred on social media, James had the fans’ support in the arena, which erupted every time he checked in.

Early on, every time he released a shot, the crowd wooshed with anticipation of James making his first basket and let out audible gasps whenever he missed.

The crowd exploded when he finally scored on a driving, acrobatic layup in the second quarter.

Before the NBA draft, the scouting report highlighted James’ great energy, defense and instincts for the game — attributes he had sparsely showcased at USC.

For the most part, James contributed with his energy and defensive skills, finishing with one steal. At times, he was caught flat-footed and off balance, still trying to find his footing at the NBA level.

James spent much of the game hovering beyond the three-point line, waiting for catch-and-shoot opportunities. After scoring his first basket, he became more comfortable taking shots and driving to the basket.

Unfortunately, many of them did not fall as he finished two-of-nine shooting from field while missing three three-point attempts and both free throws. He did make an impressive behind-the-back dribble followed by a midrange jump shot.

Before the game, James sat calmly and focused with his headphones on, working on his midrange and three-point shots. During the layup lines, he showcased his jumping ability by slamming down two-handed dunks reminiscent of his father.

James’ on-court mannerisms are eerily similar to his father’s, from the dunks and drives to the passing and even staring at the ball before hitting a step-back three-pointer.

LeBron James, unable to attend due to his commitment to attend Team USA‘s training camp in Las Vegas ahead of the Olympics, watched a video of his son making his first basket.

“C’mon man, that’s tough,” James said with a smile.

Dalton Knecht, the Lakers’ first-round pick, finished with 12 points, four assists and two rebounds in 26 minutes.

The Lakers are scheduled to play Sunday against the Golden State Warriors and Wednesday against the Miami Heat before summer league play shifts to Las Vegas.

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