Revisiting the Scoot Henderson vs Brandon Miller debate ahead of Hornets Blazers

2023 NBA Draft
2023 NBA Draft / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

As the Charlotte Hornets roll into Portland to face the Blazers on Sunday for the first time this season, it’s a good time to harken back to draft day, 2023. The Hornets, of course, held the second pick in the draft with the Blazers sitting at third.

For months leading up to the draft, the top two picks appeared to be all but set in stone, Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson. But Brandon Miller came on down the stretch for Alabama, worked his way into the conversation, and was eventually drafted second to the Hornets, while Henderson went third to Portland.

Controversial selection in the moment

It was a controversial decision at the time, one met with much scrutiny from local and national media alike. The magnitude of that decision also can’t be ignored, as top 3 picks don’t come around every year, and selecting the right (or wrong) player with those picks can alter the franchise for a decade.

But now, eight months later, as the teams prepare for their first meeting of the regular season, the narrative has completely flipped. Miller has been excellent for the Hornets, coming on since the calendar flipped to 2024.

He has been one of the best rookies in the league and has looked like a true up-and-coming star, one the Hornets are lucky to build around. Scoring a dynamic long forward who can defend and score at all three levels is making people wonder why anyone ever doubted the pick.

He has been everything the Hornets wanted and more, and has played so well lately that he has people questioning whether he may even be a better young building block than LaMelo Ball.

Disastrous start for Henderson

Meanwhile, things have gone dramatically differently in Portland. Henderson has been a bit of a disaster, struggling to shoot or score with any efficiency, struggling to defend, struggling to run offense and hold onto the ball.

He’s obviously still very young and historically it takes a while for rookie point guards, but Scoot has been pretty rough, and frankly hasn’t even shown many of the glimpses fans would have hoped for. Anfernee Simons looks like the much better young lead guard, and Malcolm Brogdon has been much more reliable as well.

It’s way too early to panic, but through two-thirds of a season Miller looks like the right pick and it hasn’t been close. Henderson has also struggled to stay on the court, and he’s currently dealing with a hip injury, so we won’t get to see the two rookies go head-to-head Sunday night.

But I’m sure the narrative will be brought back up as the teams square off, and at this point, it’s looking like a massive win for the Hornets.