NBA Draft: Should the Charlotte Hornets trade pick Scoot Henderson?
The top of the 2023 NBA draft is likely one of the most boring in recent memory. Last year’s draft had a complete shock on the day of the selections. After months of mock drafts projecting Jabari Smith Jr. to the Houston Rockets, Paolo Banchero was selected with the first overall pick. Even Banchero admitted on the Knuckleheadz podcast that he was surprised that he was going to don the Orlando Magic’s hat later that evening.
No such last-minute drama will take place in June this year. Victor Wembanyama is considered the best prospect entering the draft since LeBron James. He’s a 7’4, ball-handling, sharp-shooting phenom that can do this. He’s as close to a can’t-miss prospect as it gets. But even the consensus second pick, Scoot Henderson is considered a lock in his NBA draft order. He’s an insanely athletic, 6’2 guard with a mature body and a game to match.
But what if Henderson didn’t go number two in the NBA draft?
The Charlotte Hornets will have the fourth-best odds of getting the top selection in the upcoming draft. A product of having the fourth-worst record in the league this season. And while Wembanyama’s name would be up there as quickly as Silver announces that Charlotte is on the clock for the first pick (seriously, there’s no need for the customary waiting time this year), perhaps the Hornets should opt for an M. Night Shyamalan-esque plot twist and trade the second overall selection if it falls to them.
Henderson’s game is one that requires the ball in his hand. He’s 6’2, and largely considered a point guard. He’s also a limited outside shooter, far more adept at running a pick and roll as a ball-handler than running off screens as a movement shooter or spacer…the latter being something the 30th-ranked three-point shooting Hornets desperately need.
The Hornets already have a point guard in LaMelo Ball. And while over half of his 10.6 three-point attempts per game coming off catch-and-shoot opportunities, Ball’s passing ability requires him to handle the ball to truly be effective. And with a larger backcourt mate, the Hornets could cause opposing teams trouble with their size and length. Head coach Steve Clifford would like a quality point-of-attack defender, something that he has lacked with Terry Rozier and Ball eating up most of the guard minutes.
The trade would likely net an established veteran and a high enough draft pick to add much-needed wing depth to a team that may lose Kelly Oubre Jr. in the offseason. Gordon Hayward will also be in the last year of his contract. Henderson, as good as he is, won’t help with the future shortcomings of the team.
Mark Williams, the first-round selection last year, was helpful this year, in part, because he filled a needed void for the Hornets. Charlotte isn’t able to draft for redundancy. If they are fortunate enough to get a coveted asset like the second pick in this year’s draft, they should use it to address the issues that have kept them out of the postseason these past years. Henderson will likely be a really good NBA player, but having him play alongside Ball may stunt his growth as much as the Hornets’.