June 1, 2023

The 2023 NBA Draft order is set, and the San Antonio Spurs won the lottery — literally and figuratively — by landing the No. 1 pick and the right to select French phenom Victor Wembanyama. But with the Hornets landing at No. 2, it threw a wrinkle into the expected order for the top of the draft, which takes place June 22 at Barclays Center in New York.

G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson ranks No. 2 in the 2023 CBS Sports NBA Draft Prospect Rankings, went No. 2 overall in the most recent mock drafts from CBS Sports and has long been considered the second-best prospect in the class behind Wembanyama. However, the Hornets already have a star point guard in LaMelo Ball.

That puts the Charlotte Hornets in the position of choosing between Henderson, another prospect or a potential trade to a franchise yearning to select Henderson at No. 2. It will be a pivotal decision for an organizatoin that last won a playoff series in 2002.

While trading down to a team with a more specific need is always an option, amassing high-end talent is Charlotte’s path back to relevance, and keeping the No. 2 pick provides an obvious means to add a high-ceiling player. If not Henderson, the No. 3 player in the CBS Sports NBA Draft Prospect Rankings and most obvious fit would be Alabama wing Brandon Miler.

The case for Scoot Henderson

Henderson averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 assists for G League Ignite in the 2022-23 season. He made just 27.5% of his 3-point attempts this season but had no problem carving up opposing defenses off the dribble and using his explosive athleticism to reach the rim.

He ranked as the No. 13 overall prospect in the high school class of 2021 after reclassifying from the Class of 2022 in order to spend two years in the G League’s developmental program for elite prospects before reaching draft eligibility. The program served Henderson well as he matured on and off the court, cementing himself as a surefire top-five pick in the 2023 draft.

But playing him with Ball may not be practical for the Hornets. Henderson is just 6-foot-2 and not reliable enough on either end of the floor to be considered “versatile” at this stage in his development. That would likely mean more time spent on the wing for Ball, which would be an unnatural transition for a player whose best skills are passing and facilitating. It is not an obvious or natural pairing, and it’s why there is a case for to be made for using the second pick on Miller.

The case for Brandon Miller

Miller established himself as the top freshman in college basketball during the 2022-23 season as he earned All-American honors while leading Alabama to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. At 6-8, Miller’s length and versatility on both ends make him an obvious NBA talent. In fact, the case can easily be made that he would have been the top overall pick in last year’s draft.

Though his connection to an off-campus shooting clouded the perception of his freshman season and created questions about Miller away from the floor, there is no question about the type of player he can be. Miller hit 38.4% of his 3-pointers on 7.5 attempts per game, showed proficiency in the mid-range and defended tenaciously. He also led the Crimson Tide in rebounding at 8.2 boards per game and free-throw shooting at 85.9%.

Conveniently, the Hornets have an opening on the wing next season with Kelly Oubre Jr. becoming an unrestricted free agent. Given that Ball and fellow guard Terry Rozier are in the fold for years to come, Miller is a more obvious fit than Henderson in Charlotte.

Could Scoot fall further?

The idea of Henderson potentially falling to No. 4 seemed unlikely entering the lottery. But with Charlotte at No. 2 and Portland at No. 3, it’s within the realm of possibility. The Trail Blazers have undersized guards Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons on huge contracts for years to come. Is there room for another small guard in the mix a year after the franchise selected Shaedon Sharpe at No. 7 overall?

If the Trail Blazers also passed on Henderson, he would fit more naturally with Houston at No. 4 than with Charlotte or Portland. While the Rockets have talented young guards such as Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green and TyTy Washington, Henderson’s upside is so high that, if he’s available at No. 4, he would be an obvious choice for the Rockets.

Source link