CAN SCOOT HENDERSON CHALLENGE VICTOR WEMBANYAMA FOR THE TOP SPOT IN 2023?
It only took me 2 plays to see this kid is the real deal. I’ve heard he was nice but I didn’t know Scoot Henderson was THIS nice. I read the Sports Illustrated article on his upbringing, how he dominated high school basketball in Georgia and how he’s considered a trailblazer in America as a 17 year old professional basketball player.
Henderson agreed to skip college and bypassed job opportunities abroad to sign a two year deal suit up for the G-League Ignite earning a reported $1,000,000’s total.
With all the hype and attention surrounding him including the SI article, I’m sure Scoot Henderson entered the season with a target on his back. After all, he’s an unproven 17 year old that is collecting checks bigger than most teams payroll.
Henderson’s 31 point outburst in his second game returning to action after missing the first few games with a rib injury served as his professional coming out party and put the league on notice.
I wanted to wait for Scoot to get a few games under his belt before I created a scouting report and page for this website. I assumed he’s need a few games to adjust and he’d struggle early on.
I’ll be honest. I knew the name, I was familiar with his resume but I didn’t spend much time studying his game so this was my first look outside of a few highlight clips I’ve seen on YouTube.
After watch clips from ONE game, I am now not 100% sold that Victor Wembanyama is the top pick in 2023.
3 months ago I would’ve been considered crazy to think anyone could pass Wembanyama on draft boards.
Scoot Henderson might be that dude.
The first thing that stood out to me was his burst and first step. I haven’t seen anyone with this type of explosiveness, acceleration out of stand still and strength since a young Derrick Rose.
Henderson has the type of blow by speed that allows him to get to the rack at will without the help of a ball screen. He literally makes defenders look like they’re defending him in sand while he’s playing on a totally different surface.
Not only is he blessed with an incredible first step that is quicker than a hiccup, he also has a frame built to absorb all the punishment he’ll take on as a downhill attacking point guard.
He has a thick muscular frame and broad shoulders and looks as if he’s been putting in work in the weight room. Real work.
I don’t have any measurements on his hand size but it looks as if his hands are large enough to palm a basketball off the dribble, similar to Rajon Rondo. Having big hands is a major asset, which should make him even more of a dangerous finisher around the basket and create advantages as a passer and defender.
A freakishly athletic point guard with elite burst and strength with big hands? That is just unfair.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to drive or ride in a Rolls Rolls Wraith or a similar high end luxury performance car then you’ll get this analogy.
The Wraith boasts a 624 horse power V12 engine and weighs nearly 5,400 pounds. The design is a work of art and even though it is considered a coupe, the Wraith is as long as some SUVs. The Wraith handles and weaves in and out of traffic effortlessly and smoothly gets up to 60 mph in only 4.3 seconds despite its enormous weight.
The large 14.7-inch front and 14.6-inch rear brakes can halt the massive car in a braking distance of just 109 feet in a panic braking 0-60 mph scenario.
That’s Scoot Henderson in a nutshell. He shifts downhill, accelerates to top speeds with ease but can stop his momentum on a dime to get to his pull up jumper.
The threat of his first step makes defenders think twice about crowding him, which allows him to get to his sweet spots around 15-17 feet where he looks as comfortable as man sitting in his own living room. So far, his pull up jumper has been the main weapon in his scoring arsenal.
We don’t usually see an athlete of this caliber so advanced as a pull up shooter. It’s 2-3 years into their professional career or even after they rookie extension where they develop a reliable jump shot. Scoot seems to be way ahead of the curve as a shooter, especially off the bounce, and I totally expect for him to be fully adjusted to the NBA line before his stint with the Ignite ends.
I know it’s only been 3 games into his professional career but I’m confident that I’m not jumping the gun here. As of today, Victor Wembanyama is still the favorite to go #1 in next years draft even though he’s had a difficult early start to this season. Injuries, illness and struggling with physicality have played a major role in his adjustment to ASVEL.
Unfortunately for Wembanyama, he was hyped and heralded after a dominating U19 performance and the only thing left to do is pick his game apart. I’m not here to nitpick, but I am here to say that I believe some scouts or GM’s may prefer to trade in a Wraith instead of a unicorn.
Scoot Henderson is the real deal. And Maybe, just maybe. The way too early race to be the top pick in the 2023 draft is more competitive than we think..
NBA DRAFT JUNKIES | FRESHMAN ADJUSTMENT SERIES
Tennessee freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler was a consensus 5 star recruit and many considered him the top point guard and top NBA prospect in his graduating class.
So far the Memphis area native has had a smooth adjustment to college basketball.
Through 6 games Chandler is averaging 14.3 ppg, 5.2 apg a shade under 3 rebounds. His energy, effort and active hands on defense have helped him collect 2.7 steals per game.
Now 16 steals in 6 games is pretty impressive. But I’ve been more impressed with the fact that the 6’0' Chandler has blocked a shot in every game but one and also has 3 dunks this season. He has more dunks than some projected lottery picks who are 10 inches taller!
Chandlers scoring efficiency and outside shooting has really stood out to me. His 48/50/100 shooting splits will be nearly impossible to maintain, but then again those numbers would be even better if not for the 1-9 shooting performance vs Villanova..
He bounced back the next night with a 14 points 8 assists and 5 rebounds game on 6-13 from the floor vs North Carolina.
Tennessee’s next few games against Colorado, Texas Tech, cross state rival Memphis followed up by a matchup vs Arizona will be major tests before Chandler's second semester also known as the start of conference play.
Duke freshman Paolo Banchero is off to a strong start to his much anticipated freshman season in Durham.
Banchero arrived on campus with a lot of hype and fanfair and many draft analysts and fans believe he could be the 4th Duke player o selected 1st overall in the last 25 years following the footsteps of Elton Brand, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson..
Through 8 games, Banchero has been as good as advertised averaging 17.8 ppg, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists on 50/33/84 shooting splits highlighted by dominant halves vs Kentucky and Gonzaga..
The majority of his possessions have been in the post where he’s shooting a respectable 47.6% from the floor. At 6’10” 250 lbs, Banchero is a real problem on the low block for defenders. He has the strength to play bull ball and run through most matchups.
But in my opinion, he’s most effective facing up where he can beat you in a variety of ways. To be totally honest, Banchero is a face up monster… He’s capable of beating defenders off the dribble, but also has an effective pull ups game that has drawn comparisons to Carmelo Anthony..
Here are a few of the numbers that have stolid out to me through 8 games. The numbers would likely be even better but he’s dealt with some cramping issues in the games vs Kentucky and Duke..
Overall at the rim he’s shooting 71%
I had concerns about the jumper and he’s making 42.5% of his jumpers. 41.7% off the dribble and 43.8% in catch & shoot situations
He’s been deadly inside of 17 feet where he’s shooting 60-% on jumpers.
It’s still early, but as of today I believe Duke freshman Paolo Banchero would be the top pick in the 2022 NBA draft…
GONZAGA VS DUKE OR SHOULD I SAY HOLMGREN VS BANCHERO?
Gonzaga vs Duke is not just a big showdown between two of the top powerhouses in college basketball. This is Chet Holmgren vs Paolo Banchero! The top two NBA prospects in college basketball will square off on this holiday weekend and in my opinion, this is the most anticipated matchup between freshman prospects since Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins faced off in 2013.
Both Holmgren and Banchero represent the modern day NBA big despite having totally different styles. Banchero is a 6’10" man child that perfectly blends power, finesse and skill. While Holmgren epitomizes the unicorn label as the rare 7 footer that can space the floor, and turn a blocked shot on defense into his own personal fast break on offense.
The NBA scouts in attendance will be carefully watching and evaluating every move, and every step on every possession. Especially bottom feeder teams like Houston, New Orleans, Orlando, Sacramento, Oklahoma City and Detroit who are likely to be in position to draft Holmgren or Banchero with the top two picks in June. It still baffles me that billion dollar NBA franchises are hoping and in some cases praying, these teenage freshman sensations can change their franchise fortunes in the very near future.
Finally after months of debating who is the better prospect between Banchero and Holmgren. We may have our answer on Friday night.
SCOUTING BARCELONA'S B TEAM
Last weekend I went to scout my first basketball game since relocating to Spain. To be totally honest, I hope I am not met with the same set of challenges on my next trip across the largest country in Southern Europe. I attended the Barcelona vs CSKA Moscow game earlier in the week, but outside of New York Knicks draft and stash playmaker, Rokas Jokubaitis, there was not much to scout from an NBA draft perspective.
Barça’s Michael Caicedo is a potential NBA prospect, but he was a DNP-CD, and I didn’t arrive to the game early enough to watch individual workouts. Also, I’m not even sure Barça has NBA style intense pre game workouts for young players not in the 8 man rotation.
Even though Caicedo and Agustin Ubal have been promoted from the B team to the senior team, I was excited to check out some of the other prospects in Barcelona’s youth program. I’ve been tracking Gael Bonilla and James Nnaji for the past 18 months, so this was my first opportunity to see them play live.
BARLOWES ABROAD: EPISODE I
Who gets married at the Eiffel Tower in the morning and then goes to scout 2 basketball games that same day? Me!
Thank God my wife Shay is most understanding, supportive and coolest wife on the planet. In this episode we travel from Dallas to Paris to begin what we hope will be a season long journey living abroad as newlyweds. This is my wife's first time living overseas so this will be quite the experience for her!
For years my dream was to travel the world as an international basketball scout hoping to find the next Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo or Nikola Jokic. I hoped the opportunity to work for an NBA team would come, but without any scouting experience I was left with zero options. So I started NBAdraftjunkies.com in 2016 with the hopes of using my website as a resume.
5 years later, I'm living out my dream....but instead of working for an NBA team, I'm working for myself.
HOLMGREN OR BANCHERO? WHO WILL BE #1?
We’re still months away from the 2022 NBA Draft and there’s still a few weeks to go before the college season basketball tips off. If you're a person who eats, sleeps and breaths the NBA draft like I do, it’s never too early to discuss who should be the first player to hear his name called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver next June.
As of today, I believe it’s a 3 person race with Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren as the favorite with Duke manchild Paolo Banchero and Jaden Hardy, a professional scorer who bypassed college for the G-League, as the main challengers.
What’s crazy is Chet Holmgren could be the #1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft despite not being the best player on his team! In my opinion Gonzaga junior Drew Timme will be the best player in college basketball next season while Holmgren will be the best NBA prospect.
Timme is coming off a strong sophomore season where he averaged 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists while shooting 65% from the floor on a Zags team that made it to the Final Four before losing NCAA title game to a hungry Baylor squad. Timme, Holmgren and McDonald's All American Hunter Sallis are expected to lead Gonzaga back to the Final Four and will likely begin the season as the #1 team in the nation. And all eyes will be on the lanky sharp shooter from Minnesota who followed Jalen Suggs path from the Twin Cites to Spokane, Washington.
I personally think Holmgren’s unique blend of size, length, skills, shooting and rim protection should make him a lock to be the # 1 pick.
The label "unicorn" has been thrown around a lot over the past few years in the basketball world, but you can make a case and say Holmgren is the most deserving of the high praise.
Holmgren is 7 footer that can handle, shoot with efficiency from 3, create scoring opportunities for teammates who also glides across the floor like a natural wing. Defensively he’s a high level shot blocker that can also defend in space and screw up an opponents offensive game plan. I truly believe he has the highest upside in this draft class and will be the face of a franchise if he can maximize his potential.
The main concern about Holmgren’s NBA potential would be largely related to his frame or lack there of. He’s listed 195 pounds and his body doesn’t look like he can add a lot of bulk or weight, which could impact his draft stock as teams may be worried about his durability. I can imagine comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis , another player labeled a unicorn, will mentioned often between now and the draft.
Although, it's concerning, I'd still take Holmgren number #1. Despite the fact he looks like he’s skinny enough to dodge range drops, he’s what I called skinny tough. He plays with heart, aggression and with competitive fire. Let's be honest, there’s a stereotype that slim 7 footers who can shoot the lights out are usually soft and avoid contact and physicality.
Chet Holmgren does not fall in that category.
I personally have Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren as the favorite to be the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but I wouldn't say he's a guaranteed lock to go #1. Many believe Duke’s Paolo Banchero is the best NBA prospect in college basketball and will be the first player to hear his name called on draft night.
I’m old enough to remember when the hot topic around the NBA was about small ball being the new wave and how you can’t build a contender around a big man. Maybe that thought process has changed since Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid finished first and second in MVP votes last season and Giannis Antetokounmpo lead his Milwaukee Bucks team to the NBA title.
Now I know Giannis isn’t a traditional big, but neither are Holmgren and Banchero. What's weird is their games aren’t similar in style, but very similar as far as how they impact games with their versatility.
Holmgren’s thin frame and lack of strength has raised questions about his long term durability and NBA fit, while Banchero’s frame and natural strength (on top of his skill set) are usually the main selling points for those that believe he is the top NBA prospect in this draft class.
When you look at Banchero body, it’s hard to believe he’s just a few months removed from playing high school basketball. I definitely don’t remember seeing any 6’9 235 lbs teenagers roaming the halls back in my high school days.
What makes Banchero since an intriguing prospect is he has the size and strength to dominate games by playing bull ball in the low post, but he also has ball handling and shot making ability to create mismatches in space when opponents look to defend him with size.
To make it simple and plain, Paolo Banchero is a matchup nightmare for coaches to game plan against. When he’s in the mid post he’s got a little Carmelo Anthony in his game where he can get to the rim off the bounce or knock down face up jumpers. If a coach wants to send double or triple teams to slow him down, he has the court vision and passing instincts to create easy scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Did I mention he’s also comfortable as a pick & roll ball handler and can initiate the offense as point forward?
It’s hard not to love Banchero’s game and what he’ll bring to a team as an offensive weapon. At the very minimum he’ll serve as connective tissue that contributes to winning basketball and makes everyone around him better.
The concerns about Banchero’s lack of athleticism and explosiveness is legit, but we just saw a below average athlete and slow footed big man win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.
DAYS UNTIL 2022 NBA DRAFT
LOCKED ON NBA DRAFT PODCAST
Check me out every Mon & Thurs on the LockedOn NBA Draft Podcast on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts..
TOP INTERNATIONAL PROSPECTS
VICTOR WEMBANYAMA | 7'2" | 210 | CENTER | ASVEL (FRANCE)
France’s Victor Wembanyama is a special talent that is worth all the hype surrounding his name. I personally think he's the top international NBA prospect since Luka Doncic and should be the top player taken in the 2023 NBA draft. I've seen the Rudy Gobert/Kristaps Porzingis hybrid comparisons, but I believe he could also have some Karl Anthony Towns in his game.
Wembanyama's talent was on full display at the FIBA U19 World Cup this summer where his play on the defensive end alone would make him one of the best prospects in recent memory. Through 7 games he averaged a whopping 5.7 blocks per game.. 5.7!
YANNICK NZOSA | 6'11" | 175 | CENTER | UNICAJA (CONGO)
Prior to the start of the season, Yannick Nzosa's name was mentioned as a candidate to be selected #1 in the 2022 NBA Draft. Most fans in the states, aren't familiar with the name but they will soon be familiar with his game.
Nzosa is fits the mold of the modern day NBA center with his coordination, mobility and quickness which allows him to defend in space while being an elite shot blocker.
MATTEO SPAGNOLO | 6'4" | 185 | POINT GUARD | VANOLI CREMONA (ITALY)
Italian point guard Matteo Spagnolo, who is arguably the most exciting prospect from an entertainment standpoint in the 2022 draft class. But he’s not just all flash and flare, he’s got the game to compliment his highlight reels.
First thing I noticed about Spagnolo was his offensive creativity and swagger. Swagger is becoming and overused term in sports, but if I had to pick out one prospect that exudes swagger in this draft class, I’d probably go with Matteo.
I’m intrigued with his upside as a shot creator off the dribble but what really stands out is his confidence.
NIKOLA JOVIC | 6'10" | 210 | FORWARD | MEGA BEMAX (SERBIA)
Serbia is a country with a little under 7M people, but in the past few years, Serbia has been a hotbed for producing NBA prospects. 2021 MVP Nikola Jokic, Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and last years media darling Oklahoma City rookie Aleksej Pokusevski are all Serbia. Next up is Nikola Jovic a skilled oversized wing that can do a little bit of everything on the basketball court with a game that fits the modern day NBA.
At 6’10” Jovic creates mismatches all over the floor. He has the size of a center and the skill set of a guard.
HENRI VEESAAR | 6'10" | N/A | CENTER | REAL MADRID (ESTONIA)
Estonia born Henri Veesaar is one of the best players born in the 2004 generation and has a really good opportunity to be the first player to represent Estonia since Martin Muursepp played in the NBA back in the 96-97 season.
Veesaar projects to be a pick & pop 5 in the NBA. Although he only shot 28% from 3 U18 European challengers, he shot over 41% from 3 in last season through 8 games for Real Madrid in the Adidas Next Generation tournament. He also shot 43% from deep in 2020 at the U 16 Baltic Sea Cup so I'm a believer in his upside as a floor spacer.
GABRIELE PROCIDA | 6'7" | 215 | WING | FORTITUDO BOLOGNA (ITALY)
Italy's Gabrielle Procida is a 19 year old 6’7" 215 wing that is one of the top international prospects in the 2022 class after flirting with NBA Draft in 2021.
Procida is an uber confident shooter that is not afraid to let it fly from behind the line.. In his first season as a rotation player in Italy’s top division, he attempted nearly 3 attempts per game from deep in only 15 minutes.
And the results were positive as he connected on 38.8% of his 3 point attempts. Including a very small sample size of only 6 attempts during the 2019-20 season, Procida has shot 39.5% from behind the line in 35 career games.
JUAN NUÑEZ | 6'3" | 180 | POINT GUARD | REAL MADRID (SPAIN)
Spain’s Juan Nunez is ranked as one of the top prospects in Europe born in 2004 largely due to his ability to run a team and his incredible playmaking skills. He's definitely one of my favorite prospects to watch from an entertainment standpoint. If you love passing creativity and flare then you'll love Juan Nunez.
Nunez is a terrific passer with a little bit of flash and flair to his game… Well let me take that back. A LOT of flash and flair. His creativity as playmaker is the reason he’s one of my favorite players to watch.
OUSMANE DIENG | 6'9" | 185 | WING | NZ BREAKERS (FRANCE)
France's Ousmane Dieng is one of the most highly regarded international prospects and became somewhat of a pioneer in Europe by deciding to spend the 2021-22 season in Australia’s NBL with the New Zealand Breakers. Dieng’s name has been buzzing as a potential lottery pick in 2022 due to his size, ball handling and potential as a shot creator which has drawn a lot of comparisons to Paul George.
I briefly had a chance to watch him play pick up in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and his size, ball handling and potential as a shot creator really stood out to me. I’ve seen the Paul George comparisons and one of the players he was competing against in the pick up games though Dieng played like Michael Porter Jr.
HUGO BESSON | 6'3" | 195 | WING | NZ BREAKERS (FRANCE)
As of today Hugo Besson is my new favorite prospect in the 2022 draft class. I was sleeping on him all last season but now I am awake and will be driving the Besson bandwagon all season. 3 & D prospects are so valuable in today’s NBA, but they’re boring to watch from a scouting perspective.
Hugo Besson is far from boring and is the total opposite because he gets bucket and buckets in bunches. The 6'3' guard from France is coming off a strong season where he lead the French Pro B in scoring.
MOJAVE KING | 6'6" | 195 | WING | ADELAIDE 36ERS (NEW ZEALAND)
Mojave King is a 6’5 wing from New Zealand that projects to be a 3 & D floor spacer and ball mover in the NBA. King will be playing this season for the Adelaide 36ers, a team that has produced two first round draft picks in the last 5 years most notably Josh Giddey who was selected 6th in 2021 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
There’s a chance King could be the next prospect to transition from Adelaide to the big leagues due to his combination of positional size, athleticism and shooting.
JEAN MONTERO | 6'2" | 175 | GUARD | OVERTIME ELITE (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)
Jean Montero, a 6’2” scoring machine from the Dominican Republic who played the last couple seasons for Gran Canaria in Spain and will be the face of the new Overtime Elite league which will feature highly regarded high school and international prospects.
Montero doesn’t pass the eye test as he’s not an great athlete that wows you with his explosiveness or highlight dunks. But what he lacks in ideal physical tools he makes up for it with his knack for putting the ball in the basket. He’s an impressive scorer that plays with great pace and is a creative shotmaker that slithers through defenses to get to the cup.