An explosive athlete and relentless scorer, Scoot Henderson might lead this rookie class in highlight reel plays next season. Impressive, considering Victor Wembanyama is his classmate. But Henderson’s attacking style and varied skills will be an instant burst of energy for whichever team selects him next month.
A 6’2, 195-pound scoring guard, Henderson turned 19 years old in February while playing for G-League Ignite this season. He averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in 19 games with the team while shooting 43 percent from the field, 27.5 percent from three and 76.4 percent from the line.
While those numbers don’t leap off the page his play catapults off the screen. He is dynamic and high-flying, a mixture of bulldozer and fighter jet. That style of play and his personality make him a magnetic on-floor leader. He’s listed small but doesn’t play that way, and his reported 6’9 wingspan allows him to play through contact and collect highlight play after highlight play.
Henderson is a flying freight train. When he gets downhill, and he often gets there quickly, you’re watching an unstoppable force. He’s decisive through traffic, able to gather his dribble quickly and cradling the ball from swiping defenders, and launches. This is where Henderson is his greatest threat, impressive given he’s lacking in height. But he utilizes his stellar athleticism and wingspan to his advantage.
He has shown ability to play effectively off a high screen, either attacking the mismatch through the lane, stepping into a midrange jump shot, or finding shooters in the corners. Spacing in the NBA should only improve his comfort in this action as he develops into a fully formed creator for others and not just himself.
Henderson isn’t always looking to demolish opponents at the rim. Included in his offensive weaponry is a pull-up midrange shot that he hits rather effectively. Whether or not you’d like that to be a large part of his NBA game is a separate debate. But given the fear he puts in defenses as he barrels toward the rim, the separation he can create to elevate at 15-feet and knock down a shot is valuable.
For Henderson to become a superstar he will need to refine his three-point shot. He shot just under 28 percent this season from deep, and NBA defenses will be smarter in their schemes to expose this inconsistency. His quick first step rounding a high ball screen prevented defenders from cutting him off, but there’s no doubt opponents will dip under those screens to hedge off a driving lane and live with his uncontested long ball.
He can also get too comfortable with that midrange shot. Rather than using it as a pressure release or a late shot clock option, Henderson will turn to it in moments early in a possession when you’d like him to work for a better look for himself or others. Especially as longer defenders in the NBA might bait him into this look.
Henderson is also a battler on defense, best used as a scrapper off ball to disrupt drives and passing lanes. But he won’t be a shutdown perimeter defender and given what his offensive workload will be at the next level that is fine. His wingspan can offset his height, but expect that to be a focal point from opposing offenses, forcing him into positions defensively he won’t want to be.
Fit with the Mavericks
If Henderson had a more developed three-ball then his fit alongside Luka Doncic in the Dallas Mavericks offense would be lethal. He provides the raw high-soaring athleticism that would be a unique counterpoint to Doncic’s style. And given the lanes that Luka creates with his own gravity, Henderson would be a super highlight reel at the rim. He also moves well off the ball, cutting backdoor or filling space on the move for easy baskets. Luka would no doubt love finding a cutter of Henderson’s caliber.
It would also be easy to see Henderson run the second unit as Doncic rests. Even pairing Henderson up with Jaden Hardy could be interesting, as the Mavericks second year man can provide the shooting to compliment Henderson’s driving.
If the Mavericks were to bring Henderson into the fold they would need to find a true point of attack defender. The team’s defense was awful last season, and they lack any shutdown defenders. Wings Reggie Bullock and Josh Green can play defense within the system, but they aren’t the answer. Adding Henderson, who would bring emphatic scoring power and perhaps less pressure on the Mavericks to sign Kyrie Irving to a max deal, would still not solve the Mavericks’ biggest needs.
Henderson’s most consistent comparisons have been players like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. He possesses similar athleticism, rim finishing, and relentless power that have been the hallmarks of both former MVP’s. Scoot projects to be a multi-time All-Star and is a clear top three talent, a great consolation to those teams not selecting at number one.