Scoot Henderson is worthy of being the first player selected in many NBA drafts, just not this one. The G League Ignite phenom is the best prospect we’ve seen at the point guard position since John Wall was selected by the Washington Wizards in 2010. The issue for the 19-year-old is that he happens to be available in the same year as Victor Wembanyama, who is widely viewed as a LeBron James-level prospect. The Frenchman has garnered an absurd amount of hype since bursting onto the scene roughly five years ago, and you now hear about teams tanking for his services on a nightly basis. But make no mistake, Henderson is also a special talent.
This season, Henderson was averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game before deciding to shut it down for the year. Henderson put up those impressive numbers while playing against grown men, which is something he has been doing for each of the last two years. Henderson skipped his senior year of high school to get into the G League program early. While that has meant fewer real games than he would have played in college, it did give him more time with real NBA coaches and trainers. And one look at Henderson would show you that the extra work he has done as a professional has paid off.
Henderson only stands at 6-foot-2, but he is built like an NFL linebacker and that’s not an exaggeration. Henderson is going to step into the NBA and be ready to handle the physicality immediately. In fact, a big part of the point guard’s game is bringing the pain himself, and you can be sure he’ll be making opponents uncomfortable instantly. Henderson should be one of the most explosive young guards in the league next year, whether that’s with his quick first step or his outrageous leaping ability. That athleticism, combined with the fact that defenders will be bouncing off his big frame, will make him one of the most intriguing talents we’ve seen at the point guard position.
The crazy thing about Henderson is that he has the burst and explosiveness of players like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose — in their primes — but he plays at an extremely controlled pace. Henderson only takes advantage of his athletic ability when he’s in transition or has a step on his defender off the dribble. In halfcourt situations, he calmly surveys the floor and reads defenses, looking to find open shots for his teammates or get to his mid-range jumper. He clearly takes his film work seriously, as his ability to organize an offense is wildly advanced for a player his age. Henderson should immediately be able to take the reins at the next level, which is why a lot of sloppy franchises would be lucky to bring him in.
Henderson is going to be a pick-and-roll maestro in the NBA, and it’s scary to think about what he might be able to do with proper spacing — and a screener that can step out and hit the three-ball. Henderson can attack downhill with the best of them, as he can finish over anybody. And that mid-range jumper we mentioned earlier will be there for him a lot. Not a lot of NBA point guards value the mid-range shot, but the ones that constantly knock them down get to it whenever they want. Chris Paul, who is 37 years old and moves at a snail’s pace, still gets a lot of clean looks from 10 to 15 feet away from the basket. Henderson can feast in that range if he keeps working on his jumper.
Henderson has done a lot to clean up his mechanics over the years and is now a legitimate threat off the dribble inside the three-point line. The next step for him is to work until he is comfortably able to shoot it from three, as it’s still the most valuable shot in basketball. The good news is that his jumper doesn’t look broken in any capacity — and his 76.4% free throw shooting shows that he has the touch you need to be a decent shooter. Henderson also has an elite handle, which should give him a little more time to load up the jumper.
With Henderson’s ability to beat defenders off the bounce and ferociously attack the rim, he isn’t that far away from being a remarkable offensive talent. He enters the league in the same mold as guys like Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox, who have both worked themselves into respectable shooters. But Henderson’s calmness and court vision make him light years ahead of where those two were when they were drafted. His basketball IQ truly sets him apart and should make him a lethal postseason performer one day.
Henderson is also a player that plays with a ton of tenacity on the defensive end. People will question his ability to impact that end of the floor because of his height, but he has a 6-foot-9 wingspan. Combined with his muscular frame, that should allow him to size up and guard some shooting guards in the NBA. But either way, this is a guy that should be a menace in the passing lanes and will work hard to harass opposing ball handlers. Henderson might not be a flawless player on that end of the floor, but he’s certainly not Trae Young either. And it’s hard to say that a player with Henderson’s competitive fire won’t figure it out.
Henderson genuinely wants to be one of the best players in the league, and we got a glimpse of his passion when he faced Wembanyama in a pair of exhibition games early in October. Henderson stated he believes he should be the top pick in the draft, and he attacked Wembanyama off the bounce quite a bit in those games. That’s exactly the type of competitor you want in your locker room. And NBA franchises will love that a player with his ability has his drive and willingness to work.
On May 16th, one NBA team is going to find out that Wembanyama is the new face of their franchise. Meanwhile, 13 other teams are going to walk away shaking their heads. But once the dust settles, a second team will realize they're getting a very good consolation prize, and that Henderson can also be the face of a franchise.