Chauncey Billups believes in Scoot Henderson: I’m very confident he will be a star

ORLANDO, Fla. — Scoot Henderson has had a challenging rookie campaign with the Portland Trail Blazers, but the organization believes the 20-year-old has a bright future and is standing behind him.

Henderson is averaging 13.3 points, 4.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds on 38% shooting from the field in 56 games. He is fourth in the rookie class in scoring and is one of seven first-year players with multiple 30-point games (2).

On paper, Henderson looks to be having a productive year.

However, Henderson has dealt with injuries throughout the year (ankle, foot, adductor) and has struggled with his efficiency and defense. He has the third-worst true-shooting percentage (48.1) among rookies who have appeared in at least 25 games. He also recently recorded the worst plus-minus in history after he was minus-58 in a 142-82 loss to the Miami Heat on March 29.

Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups doesn’t seem all that concerned with the inconsistent play of Henderson this season, given the circumstances surrounding him.

He is up and down like any rookie, especially a rookie that is a point guard, which is, to me, the toughest position in our game to play. Sometimes, it looks like he has played 3-4 years in the league and, sometimes, he looks his age. He had a rough night a couple of nights ago, so if I’m talking about that game, I’m saying he hasn’t grown that much. But if I’m looking at him after practice yesterday, I’m saying he looks like a five-year vet. That’s just kinda how it has been for him and it is all great learning moments and teachable experiences. I would just say this: I’m very confident that Scoot is going to be a star in this league.

Henderson offered a glimpse of his overall ability to affect games on Monday in a one-point loss to the Orlando Magic. He neared a triple-double with 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in nearly 35 minutes in his 26th start of the season.

The third pick was highly touted as a floor general last season with the G League Ignite, who can get his teammates involved and penetrate into the paint. He had those traits on display against the Magic and nearly had the game-winning assist after getting the ball to Deandre Ayton for an open shot as time expired.

His ability to impact games has resonated with his teammates.

“He gets everyone involved and gets guys to their spots and a lot of stuff that’s not on the stat sheet that he does for us, and we know and appreciate,” Dalano Banton said. “I think that goes the most for all of us: What doesn’t appear on the stat sheet and for him being a leader and a young, vocal guy. He isn’t shy to step into that point guard role. He talks to all of us as if he isn’t a rookie and I think that is big for him going into his future.”

Henderson has demonstrated he can play either as a starter or a reserve player, giving Billups some flexibility. The team has dealt with several injuries, prompting some rather rare lineup combinations, but it has given Henderson the opportunity to log extended minutes.

Although the results have been inconsistent this season, Henderson has shown what he can bring nightly with more development and time on the court. His coach and teammates can see it and believe it is only a matter of time before he puts it all together.

“He is getting better and better,” Ayton said. “He is going to be one dangerous player. The way he is so fast and so strong, the league is going to be aware of how easy he can get to the rim when he wants to. I think we’re all just waiting on Scoot to tell us what he wants to do, you know? We’re just reading off him and making him grow and work outside that box and be the point guard we want him to be and making him feel like there isn’t so much on his shoulders. … Dude is on a great track.”

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire