Scoot Henderson: 2023 NBA Draft Scouting Report
While Scoot is tremendously skilled, the reason we see him as a future star is because he seems to possess the hard-to-describe 'it factor'
“The intangibles are a euphemism for ‘we have no idea what we’re looking for but we know it when we see it.’” — Brian Billick
Sitting in front of a laptop, watching film, reviewing stats, and generating scouting reports is not that difficult of a gig. Sure, it takes a trained eye with basketball experience and an understanding of translatability to the next level. But coming up with an evaluation of where draft prospects are today in comparison to each other is not overwhelmingly difficult.
The difficulty in scouting comes from looking forward and understanding which players will continue to grow, add portions of their game that will help them, and keep climbing up the ranks so that their best basketball is ahead of them.
From my vantage point as a glorified internet scout, it’s a little harder to do but still not impossible. You can look at the areas of growth and over time, you grow to master and understand how realistic growth is based on the progress they’ve already shown. That’s a skill development analysis at its finest.
The challenge in the public sphere is that so many of the relevant pieces of information about prospects is locked away and unavailable on the internet. Hidden from our purview are the intangibles, the character tests, and the professional attributes that allow guys to sustain the brutal lifestyle of NBA basketball. No singular Synergy film clip, basketball-reference query, or NBA.com box score can illuminate those traits.
When Brian Billick said “we have no idea what we’re looking for, but we know it when we see it”, he’s describing what many will call the ‘it factor’. To this day, I haven’t found a better, more quirky definition of ‘it’ than what Billick set forth. There’s no real search that you can do for a guy who has ‘it’. But when somebody has it, it’s clear.
Scoot Henderson has ‘it’. I will foolishly spend the next several thousand words trying to illustrate why, to talk about what leads me to believe in him so strongly, and why his pro impact can go far beyond just the stats and the film.
For Henderson, both the stats and the film are impressive. As a teenager starting at point guard and being the number-one option in a professional basketball league, Henderson averaged 17.6 points and 6.4 assists per game. His body-builder physique at 6’2” (or generously 6’3”) with a 6’9” wingspan and absolutely massive hands stand out at first glance. His elite vertical athleticism, top-end speed with the ball, and general craftiness captivate you as you watch the film.
But it’s those intangibles that make Scoot so fascinating and in the territory to become a franchise-changing star. Very few players under 6’3” make it in today’s NBA, let alone become stars. The amount of skill, scoring burst, and overall alpha mentality that is needed trims out all but a handful of players.
As we get deeper into this scouting report, we’ll go over the offense and defensive skills that Scoot brings to the table that make him a tremendous basketball player. But we’ll also dive into those intangibles, those ‘I know it when I see it’ moments that lead us to believe in him as a star.
At the top of most drafts, teams are looking for an offensive engine. Only one player in the 2023 class has already proven to be a high-volume offensive engine at the professional level: Scoot Henderson.
According to Synergy Sports Tech, 43.7% of possessions that ended with the ball in Scoot Henderson’s hands were from ball screens. Only seven qualified players in the NBA currently have a higher rate of ball screens, and Scoot’s rate is greater than the likes of LaMelo Ball (40.7%), Damian Lillard (39.7%), and Darius Garland (42%). The starting-caliber players with a greater percentage of their offense coming in ball screens this year: Chris Paul, Ja Morant, Tyrese Haliburton, and Trae Young.
While Scoot isn’t quite in the same levels of production as those players because he’s inconsistent as a shooter, the amount of sheer production he’s put up in a professional league is pretty special. Look at him next to the most recent professional track guards of the last five years to go in the lottery (all of whom went top-six) and you’ll find that the per game numbers and raw metrics are kind to Scoot:
He’s the top scorer of the group, and more efficient from the field and from 3 than Josh Giddey or LaMelo Ball. If you’re alarmed by the inefficiency of some of his numbers (only 44.3% from the field, for example), use these other guards who have had similar backgrounds and succeeded in the NBA for a comparison point.