Scoot Henderson had a bit of a rocky start to his rookie campaign, but the third pick appears to have settled in, and that has resulted in some strong performances of late with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Henderson played in the first five games of the season and was then sidelined for nine due to an ankle injury. He struggled with efficiency over his first 19 games, averaging 10.8 points, 4.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds on 36.7% shooting from the field, including 25% from 3-point range.
The 20-year-old has since improved, posting 14.5 points, five assists and 3.4 rebounds in 22 games on 36.7% shooting from beyond the arc. He has two 30-point games in that stretch, including a career-high 33 points, nine assists and seven rebounds on Jan. 14.
Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin noted Thursday that Henderson looks to be getting more comfortable each game and is pleased with how he has progressed this season.
(He had a) shaky start early on, which was to be expected for a 19-year-old coming in and running an offense. I love how he has navigated that, especially lately. I think we’ve seen some really explosive moments and series of games from him. That’s what we’re building off of: Get past the mistakes, show what you’re capable of and keep growing from that. Running an NBA team from the point guard spot is hard, and I think Scoot has navigated that really well.
Henderson, like most rookies at this stage of their careers, is still learning how to integrate with the other players on the team. They’ve dealt with some injuries that have prevented the team from being at full strength, which has delayed the process.
He has demonstrated that he can play either as a starter or a reserve player, which has given coach Chauncey Billups some flexibility. With such a young roster, the team is still working to figure out its rotations and lineups, but the front office likes where they are at the moment.
Henderson was a highly touted prospect entering the NBA draft last year and has shown flashes of that ability. He was named to the NBA Rising Stars game and is one of five first-year players with multiple 30-point games this season.
He looks to have progressed with each game, which was to be expected after missing time. He is developing into a franchise cornerstone and proving himself as a top-three pick.