Editor’s note: we made a mistake and Henderson is the third pick, this has been fixed.
The 2023 NBA draft last June held high hopes for the Portland Trail Blazers as they secured the third overall pick, a pivotal moment in the team’s direction as it was anticipating a split with long-time superstar Damian Lillard. It later came to fruition as they shipped him to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The hype was palpable as the Blazers selected rookie guard Scoot Henderson, heralding a new era in Portland basketball.
However, despite the excitement surrounding his arrival, the rookie has found himself facing significant challenges on the court, struggling to live up to the expectations of being the franchise’s new hope.
Being a promising young talent, Henderson was expected to seamlessly fill the shoes of the departed Lillard and lead the team to new heights. Yet, the transition from college basketball to the NBA has proven to be far more demanding than anticipated for the rookie guard. In his four games of the season, the speedy, athletic guard has been grappling with his performance, averaging a mere 8.0 points per game on a disappointing 33.3% shooting from the field. What’s even more concerning is his horrific struggle from beyond the arc, where he has managed to make only one of his eighteen three-pointers, painting a bleak picture of his outside touch.
The challenges faced by Henderson are not uncommon for rookies entering the demanding world of professional basketball. The transition to the NBA involves adapting to a faster pace, stronger opponents, and a more intricate style of play. For a player like Henderson, who shoulders massive expectations of rejuvenating a team in transition, the pressure to perform can be overwhelming.
One of the significant factors contributing to Henderson’s early struggles is the absence of an experienced mentor on the court. With Lillard’s departure, the Blazers lost not only a prolific scorer but also a seasoned leader who could guide young talents like Henderson. The absence of such mentorship has left Henderson to navigate the complexities of the NBA largely on his own, a daunting task for any rookie player.
The team’s default veteran is 31-year-old Malcolm Brogdon, and he’s the only current Blazer who’s over the age of 30.
There may also be some issues stemming from his style. Henderson plays a downhill approach courtesy of his speed, athleticism, big body for a guard, which then translates to relentlessness in attacking the defense. As a result, he’s prone to mistakes, with more savvy defenders using his strength against him.
Nevertheless, the scrutiny from fans and critics alike has most likely added to Henderson’s challenges. The burden of being the second overall pick in the draft comes with billions of eyeballs, as well as microscopes that follow every missed shot, turnover, and every little mistake. Adjusting to this level of pressure takes time, patience, and a strong support system, which Henderson is still in the process of building.
However, it is crucial to recognize that Henderson’s struggles do not define his future potential. Many NBA legends faced rocky starts to their careers before blossoming into stars – James Harden, Jimmy Butler, and even Kawhi Leonard, just to name a few, all had terrible starts. What Henderson needs now is support from his team, coaching staff, and fans, coupled with hard work and determination on his part, to overcome this challenging phase.
The Blazers organization and their fans must remain patient and understanding as Henderson navigates through this difficult period of adjustment. With time, dedication, and the right guidance, there is a strong possibility that Henderson will find his footing in the NBA and emerge as the player everyone envisioned him to be. As the saying goes, “It’s not about how you start; it’s about how you finish.” Only time will reveal the true potential of Scoot Henderson, and with the right support, he might yet become the cornerstone of the new era of Portland Trail Blazers basketball.