Portland Trail Blazers rookie Scoot Henderson is being met with some lofty expectations as he enters the NBA.
As the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the youngster is already getting a taste of what pressure is like at basketball’s highest level.
But he isn’t backing down, and if his recent comments are any indication, he’s embracing the pressure that lies ahead.
“Support is everything, especially from the coaching staff,” Henderson told Andscape. “That is huge, knowing they have your back. Everyone in the Portland organization, the coaching staff, everybody behind the scenes, they are pitching a lot into the players. The doctors and medical staff are pitching in a certain way you may not think they would. But I’m watching, observing …
“I’m going to take the pressure all on me. But knowing that I have the confidence from the coaching staff, I’m going to respect them a lot more.”
Henderson, who was thought by many to be the second-best prospect in his class, ended up falling to the Trail Blazers at No. 3 in this year’s draft. Victor Wembanyama and Brandon Miller were picked ahead of him.
The 19-year-old is the potential point guard of the future for the Blazers, a role that comes with some big shoes to fill given the stability Damian Lillard gave the franchise at the position for over a decade. Lillard is now with the Milwaukee Bucks after a blockbuster trade last month.
Across 19 G League games during the 2022-23 regular season, Henderson averaged 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per contest while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Given Portland’s new status as a rebuilding team, Henderson is likely going to get tons of experience during his rookie season. There may be some growing pains, but the lottery pick will likely come out the other side with some invaluable lessons from his first year at the NBA level.
The Blazers chose Henderson with their earliest pick in a draft since they added Greg Oden at No. 1 overall in 2007. Due to injuries, Oden was unfortunately never able to get his footing at the NBA level. There’s no indication that Henderson will follow a similar path.
Portland will open its season next week against the Los Angeles Clippers on the road. The 2023-24 campaign might not produce tons of wins for the Blazers, but it will certainly produce a lot of growth as they prepare for a bright future.