Portland Trail Blazers rookie point guard Scoot Henderson has a lot on his plate at 19 years old. He was the No. 3 pick in the draft, which comes with it’s own set of expectations, but he’s also going to be judged – fairly or not – as Damian Lillard’s replacement.
Through one training camp and preseason, everyone in the Blazers’ organization speaks highly of Scoot and believes he’s going to be a star in the NBA. He certainly has the physical attributes, and seemingly the work ethic and mental approach to go with them, but there’s never a sure thing in sports.
Just ask Portland Head Coach Chauncey Billups, who was the third pick in the 1997 draft and didn’t find stability in the league until he joined his fifth team.
Billups isn’t the only member of the Trail Blazers staff who has experience with point guard development, though. Chauncey’s top assistant was once a head coach who was involved in bringing along a physically explosive but raw point guard (sound familiar?) who went on to become an NBA MVP.
Blazers’ Scott Brooks says Scoot Henderson can be “Russell Westbrook 2.0”
In an interview with Marc Spears of Andscape detailing Scoot’s support system in Portland – a support system Billups never had – assistant coach Scott Brooks compared Henderson to Russell Westbrook, who he watched develop as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder:
"They’re both extremely smart, tough, competitive and determined. Their will to prepare is just as great as their will to win. And that’s rare. That’s not even talking about the athleticism and the size for this position. But there are a lot of similarities that it’s uncanny. I had Russell for eight years, since he was 20 years old. Scoot is 19, and he has Chauncey to really help him take him to another level. But there’s a lot of similarities, a lot and competitive and serious and wants to get better and coachable. Everything you want as a young player he has, so you know that he’s on the right path for greatness.Portland Trail Blazers coach Scott Brooks on Scoot Henderson"
Billups spoke about how tough it was for him to begin his NBA career with no veteran guard to teach him the ropes. He was traded before the all-star break of his rookie season, which didn’t help either.
The hope in Portland, which is why the Trail Blazers are keeping him around, is that Malcolm Brogdon will be the type of veteran mentor Billups never had. Maybe the 30-year-old Brogdon can do the same for Shaedon Sharpe and, to an extent, Anfernee Simons.
Scoot has a well-rounded support system with the Blazers. Hopefully that helps him reach his MVP-level potential, as it did with Westbrook.