1. The Blazers will need to lean into more athleticism
Transitioning from Lillard to Scoot Henderson as the starting point guard downgrades the team’s perimeter shooting, but it raises the team’s athletic ceiling.
Even at 19 years old, Henderson’s strengths are predicated on his athleticism. In his summer league debut, he showcased his NBA-ready strength and explosiveness. In the G League, he cultivated an offensive game around his power, bursting through gaps in the defense and using his strength to hold advantages against trailing defenders.
As new teammates Malcolm Brogdon and DeAndre Ayton have remarked, Henderson’s most striking trait on the court is his speed.
Lillard leverages quickness and strength to maneuver past defenders, but his offensive game revolves more around his shooting ability and pick-and-roll manipulation than explosiveness. Look for Scoot to rely more on a power game as his means to penetrate defenses and spray the ball out to the perimeter or finish at the rim.
Henderson’s new teammates bring other attributes that should reorient the team’s offense around athletic strengths. Ayton and Robert Williams III, vertically explosive athletes, complement Henderson’s passing as lob threats.
Dunking extraordinaire Shaedon Sharpe showcased his ability as a backdoor and transition lob threat last season. Anfernee Simons adds elements of quickness and shiftiness.
An infusion of athleticism creates more opportunity for the Blazers to be disruptive defensively. Understanding schemes and developing awareness will take time, but Henderson’s 6-foot-9 wingspan and strong frame bode well for his projection as a defender.
His length, along with the range of Matisse Thybulle and the rim protection of Ayton and Williams, offers the Blazers a chance to clog passing lanes and protect the paint, areas of weaknesses for Lillard-era Blazers’ defenses.