Scoot Henderson’s strengths
Before diving into Henderson’s skills, it’s worth examining his size and athleticism because some misconceptions have been floating around about these topics. Sticking around the league as an undersized guard has become increasingly difficult in the modern era. Without considering context, Henderson is right on the cusp of what many would consider “undersized” for a guard, as he stands at only about 6-foot-2.
Take it from someone who had the privilege of seeing Henderson play in person: there is nothing to be concerned about. For being only 6-foot-2, Henderson has a well-built frame and is a top-tier athlete in his own right. He’s a powerful leaper off one or two feet, has a quick first step and debatably even quicker second and third steps, moves well laterally on the perimeter, and has outstanding functional strength to absorb and repel contact. And perhaps just as importantly, he reportedly has a massive 6-foot-9 wingspan (only about one inch shorter than Dejounte Murray).
Being an outstanding athlete with promising measurables isn’t enough to make a draft prospect as highly touted as Henderson is, though. In addition, Henderson is likely the most poised pick-and-roll guard in this class, as he’s capable of making and executing high-level passing reads and scoring on his own off screens, as he already has a strong midrange game that he can rely on when he can’t leverage his sheer athleticism to get to the bucket.
His blend of powerful above-the-rim finishes and soft-touch below the rim is incredibly impressive for his age. He constantly keeps defenders guessing on drives to the rim, has a fundamental understanding of angles, knows when the avoid or initiate contact, and uses craft to keep the ball away from defenders. Combine these qualities with his tight ballhandling skills, and you have a guard that can get to the paint and create advantages for himself and others at will.
Scoot Henderson’s areas for improvement
I have yet to come across a flawless draft prospect in my time doing this—yes, including Victor Wembanyama—and Henderson is no exception either. Most notably, Henderson will have to improve as a three-point shooter both off the catch and off the dribble, as he only hit about 33% of his threes this season. But considering that he improved that efficiency by 11% compared to his first season with the Ignite, has shown plenty of flashes of touch around the rim and in the midrange, and hit about 74% of his free throws, improving in this area is well within the realm of possibility.
Henderson had some lapses as a decision-maker while being tasked with running a G-League team’s offense at such a young age. His questionable decisions often took the form of dangerous or easily-interceptable passes, contested shots early into the shot clock, or just flat-out forcing the issue against tough defense instead of remaining patient for a better play. But these issues are highly correctable with experience and tough coaching, and frankly, it would be more unusual if Henderson weren’t having some of these lapses against professional competition.