The 2023 NBA Draft class is predicted to be among the finest in recent times and all of it starts at the highest with the No. 1 prospect, Victor Wembanyama.
By now, you have almost actually heard of Wembanyama, the 7-foot-3, French big man who truly suits the “unicorn” label that gets thrown around far too often nowadays. The 18-year-old protects the rim and catches lobs the way in which you’d expect from someone his height with a 7-foot-9 (!) wingspan, but what makes him truly unique is he plays more like a wing than a conventional big. Wembanyama can create his own shot off the dribble, rising up with a stunningly fluid jumper for a player his size, or using his surprising quickness to attack the rim.
Those attributes have already got teams positioning themselves for what must be an epic tankathon within the NBA this yr, but coming up just wanting winning the lottery could be removed from a consolation prize for any franchise.
That is because Scoot Henderson, a G League Ignite guard and the consensus No. 2 prospect hiding in plain sight behind Wembanyama, also has the potential to change into a franchise-altering talent.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Henderson, he was a five-star recruit who ranked because the No. 7 prospect in the highschool Class of 2022. He finished his highschool credits early and signed a seven-figure deal to play for the Ignite on the age of 17, technically making him the youngest skilled basketball player in United States history.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound guard already has a full season of professional basketball under his belt, but due to his age, he was not eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft.
Being the primary Ignite prospect who wasn’t immediately draft-eligible, Henderson has change into the poster child for the event program as he gets set to enter his second season playing within the G League.
— NBA G League Ignite (@gleagueignite) April 21, 2022
As a rule, Henderson looked like the most effective player on the Ignite’s roster last season. Higher than Dyson Daniels, who went No. 8 overall to the Pelicans. Higher than Jaden Hardy, who fell to the Mavericks within the second round but emerged as a breakout player at Summer League.
Over 11 games on the G League Showcase Cup and 10 exhibition games for the Ignite, Henderson averaged 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.6 steals, proving he’s able to holding his own against grown men as a young person.
But what’s it about Henderson’s game specifically that offers him the potential to be a franchise cornerstone within the near future?
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How good is Scoot Henderson? 2023 NBA Draft prospect scouting report
With solid size, strength and length at 6-foot-2, 195 kilos with a reported 6-foot-9 wingspan, Henderson already looks the a part of a combo guard on the NBA level.
The very first thing you will notice is his explosiveness as an athlete. He takes no time to speed up before rising up and attacking the basket with aggression. Henderson is at his best when he gets downhill, using his speed and powerful frame to soak up contact, shed off defenders and finish on the rim — which is by far essentially the most impressive aspect of his game.
(For what it’s value, that is former G League Ignite prospect and No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Kuminga, who played 70 games for the NBA champion Warriors, defending Henderson.)
He moves swiftly and easily within the open floor, pushing the ball directly at backpedaling defenders or running the lanes hard to create easy layups or dunks. Within the halfcourt, once he turns a corner and gets past that first line of defense, he’s a nightmare to stop due to his ability to maintain opponents guessing with a fast pull-up jumper.
Henderson’s pull-up game is deadly — and way more advanced than a typical prospect. Not only does he have a smooth shooting stroke and high release, but he’s capable of stop on a dime.
The mixture gives him the boldness to knock down midrange jumpers at a high clip.
Due to how dynamic he’s with the ball in his hands, Henderson is more of a degree guard than a shooting guard. He shared ball-handling duties with Daniels and Hardy this past season, so he’s only scratching the surface of his playmaking potential.
He showed flashes as a passer during his first season with the Ignite, knowing when to take what the defense gives him by making easy reads to seek out open teammates. Now and again, he displayed some advanced passing skills, which we will only hope to see more of when he receives the keys to the offense next yr.
After one skilled season, Henderson already looks ready for the subsequent level. His development in 12 months 2 must be a scary sight for the remainder of the G League.
Areas of improvement
For as talented as Henderson already is, he’s still an 18-year-old with loads of room for improvement.
His most glaring weakness is his 3-point shooting, though him already being a legitimate midrange threat is a promising sign for his future development.
Henderson only converted 21.6 percent (11-51) of his 3s during his first season with the Ignite, struggling to seek out any form of a rhythm each off the catch and dribble. Even with a clean shooting stroke, he’ll must extend his range beyond the arc to maximise his offensive talents at the subsequent level.
He could also improve as a shot creator by tightening his ball-handling. Although Henderson has an elite pull-up game, he hasn’t quite developed among the stepbacks and side-steps we see from prolific scoring pros to create additional space from defenders. One would think that may include time.
On the opposite side of the ball, Henderson still has a ways to go. He has the tools to be a disruptive and physical perimeter defender but we have not seen it come to fruition just yet.
He had trouble keeping his assignments in front of him off the dribble, often reaching to try to give you a steal as his opponent drove by him. He does have quick hands to poke the ball loose, but sometimes, it was to a fault.
He can wander off attempting to navigate ball screens — an important skill as a guard within the pick-and-roll-heavy NBA — but that ought to improve as he continues to get reps.
Henderson is an NBA-ready prospect, but when he can fine-tune these few areas over the subsequent season, he’ll be as well-rounded as they arrive heading into his rookie season in 2023-24.