The Portland Trail Blazers signaled the end of an era when they traded Damian Lillard. It happened in part because they drafted Scoot Henderson third overall in 2023. The 6’2 teenager has star potential and was arguably the most sought-after prospect behind Victor Wembanyama. Portland entered a rebuild before the start of the season, but few expected Henderson to struggle this much.
The 19-year-old missed some time but is averaging 10.8 points, 4.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.1 turnovers in 26.1 minutes per game. He has mostly come off the bench and is committing a scary 3.8 personal fouls per game. Henderson is shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 25.0 percent on his threes. It has been a disastrous start, but things are starting to improve.
Scoot would not be the first rookie point guard to struggle. James Harden averaged 9.9 points and 1.8 assists on 40.3 percent shooting in year one. Darius Garland produced a negative value over replacement player (VORP) and was an All-Star in his third season. Russell Westbrook struggled, including having a negative-12 net rating as a rookie. All three of those players turned into stars, and Henderson can too. Here are some reasons Portland fans should be optimistic and a few worries about their teenage point guard.
Reason Scoot Henderson becomes star: Athletic ability
It does not take long to recognize Henderson’s special ability on the floor. He has a lightening quick first-step and loves to attack the rim. It leads to plenty of ferocious dunks and must-see highlights. His ability to get into the paint and finish is impressive for a 6’3 guard and a standout skill.
Henderson has a reported 6’9 wingspan to go with his athleticism. Head coach Chauncey Billups wants his team to standout on the defensive end, and he made two All-Defensive teams at the same size as Henderson. Being a plus-athlete gives the teenager defensive potential, even if he is a bit undersized to switch in the modern NBA.
Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, and several other small point guards had a lightning-quick first step and became superstars. Trail Blazers fans would love Scoot Henderson to join that list, but he has a ton of work to do.