Scouting Scoot Henderson after he dazzled the Paycom Center

Scoot Henderson #0 of G League Ignite (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Scoot Henderson #0 of G League Ignite (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s G-League affiliate, the OKC Blue, welcomed in the NBA G-League ignite squad. A team owned by the NBA G-League to allow for potential NBA Draft prospects to play on the roster. Scoot Henderson headlines this year’s version of the Ignite, as a projected top-two pick, only overshadowed by Victor Wembanyama.

There was a lot of anticipation around Bricktown when Scoot Henderson came to town, the 6’2 guard has eye-popping talent, with a potential superstar written all over him. While the Ignite and Blue split their two-game set in the Paycom Center, the game-to-game box score did not matter, all eyes were on Henderson as he dazzled the Paycom Center floor as a primer to his NBA career.

Scouting Scoot Henderson after impressive performances at the Paycom Center last week with the NBA G-League Ignite

The NBA G-League Ignite coming to town were two dates I had circled on my calendar since the schedule was released. Watching Scoot Henderson lived up to the billing. The first thing I noticed when recording his pregame warm-up on the floor was how big Henderson is. He looks and plays better than his listed measurements of 6’2 196.

To put into perspective how good Scoot Henderson was in these two games, I have over two pages of notes on just Henderson alone. Not only was he the first player on the court, but what was impressive was his routine of working on his ability to play off the ball.

In the NBA, teams are shifting to position-less versatile players, with what used to be seen as “awkward fits” now being put together before our eyes. Multiple “ball-dominate players” are having to learn to co-exist like Trae Young and Dejonte Murray in Atlanta, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with Josh Giddey in Oklahoma City.

Scoot Henderson practiced taking shots curling off a screen, catching and shooting stationary jumpers, and played in the actual game without the ball in his hands way more than I was expecting. That will go a long way in affirming that no matter who gets the second overall pick, you just simply draft the best player available in Henderson no matter how your roster is set up. Stars make it work, and the 6’2 guard is a star.

Henderson fell in love with the floater and even flashed his mid-range game with step-back jumpers at the elbow and baseline, and while playing off the ball he even was comfortable setting screens for his teammates.

Specifically for Oklahoma City, that is huge as Mark Daigneault has used Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tre Mann as screeners in the early going of this season. The willingness to screen goes a long way in making the combination work on an already guard-heavy team.

While the offense was drawing attention with his crafty passing, his incredible hang time and pressure on the rim, improved shooting stroke, and mid-range scoring ability perhaps the most encouraging thing from watching him in-person last week was the defense and intangibles.

Scoot Henderson was incredibly vocal on both ends of the floor, he switched onto bigs and even denied entry passes in those instances, fought over screens, and was incredibly active on that end of the floor. Especially for a player who is locked into going in the top two of the 2023 NBA Draft in June, it would be easy for him to skip out on that end of the floor, but Henderson still does the dirty work.

Random scouting notes to watch on Scoot Henderson the rest of the way: Watch how long he hangs in the air, the body control, how low he gets when he is breaking down defenders on the dribble, how hard to scraps for rebounds as loose balls despite that star label, and his electric passes even when they do not lead to assists.

Biggest question mark remaining for Scoot Henderson: Can that three-point shot fully come around? To put into perspective how good Henderson is, even if the answer to this question is no, I would still project him to be an NBA superstar. He is one of those talents like the one you watch on a nightly basis in Bricktown that can still thrive without an insane three-point stroke.

Next. four burning questions for the OKC Thunder a month into the season. dark