According to Stadium NBA Insider Shams Charania, the New Orleans Pelicans could make a serious bid to move into the top three of the NBA Draft in order to select guard Scoot Henderson.
The Pelicans currently hold one pick, the 14th selection, in the draft, which will be held on June 22. With San Antonio a virtual lock to select Victor Wembanyama with the top pick, New Orleans will have to make a deal with either the Charlotte Hornets at number two, or the Portland Trail Blazers, holders of the third selection.
Draft experts have gone back and forth between Henderson and Alabama’s Brandon Miller as to who will go second, but Henderson seems to have pulled ahead in recent days.
Henderson is a 6-2 guard who has spent the last two years working with the NBA G League Ignite, the G League’s official developmental team. Henderson, a five-star prospect out of Marietta, Ga., signed with the Ignite at age 17, making him the youngest player to join the G League.
In 19 games this past season, he averaged 16.5 points, 6.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 42.9% from the floor and 27.5% from beyond the arc.
Henderson is viewed as the most complete point guard prospect in the draft, with his exceptional athleticism, court vision, ability to control the game, and multifaceted offensive scoring package.
Though he’s just 6-2, he has a 6-foot-9 wingspan, and has not shown any limitations as a finisher around the rim. One skill set that he would bring to the table that the Pelicans sorely need is playmaking. While the offense thrives when the ball is moving or in transition, New Orleans struggled in half court sets. Finding another capable ball handler who can create for himself and others would be a major accomplishment.
Like any guard coming into the NBA, there would be a necessary defensive adjustment and the transition for point guard is as difficult as any position in the league. The consensus seems to be that Henderson will make the adjustment sooner rather than later.
Scoot Henderson doesn’t lack for confidence, either. He continues to promote himself as the best player in this draft class, something he’s been stating since the night of the lottery.
It’s not surprising that the Pelicans would look to move their pick, with the team having nine players on the current roster with three years or less of NBA experience. David Griffin has to believe that after the franchise finished with its first winning record in five seasons, even with the large amount of injuries and adversity it faced, that the framework of a contender is in place.
Any deal would have to include at least one notable player. Zion Williamson’s recent extension, injury history, and potential, make it highly unlikely that he gets moved. That leaves some possible combination of Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Herbert Jones, and Trey Murphy III, along with the Pelicans’ reservoir of draft picks to dangle in front of the Hornets and Blazers.
There will also probably be other suitors for those picks as well, meaning the price could only get steeper as the draft approaches.
The Pelicans are in win-now mode. And with the NBA championship race seemingly as wide open as its ever been, one major move could be the difference between the Pels soaring to the next level or once again failing to live up to their lofty expectations.
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