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What Should the Charlotte Hornets Do at #2?
The San Antonio Spurs were the big winners on Lottery Night, but the Hornets also jumped up in the draft lottery. With Victor Wembanyama all but a lock to go first, what should Charlotte do at #2?
The Charlotte Hornets were one of the winners on Draft Lottery night, as they jumped up from the fourth-highest odds to the #2 overall pick. While they were not as fortunate as the San Antonio Spurs, who will have the chance to draft Victor Wembanyama with the first overall pick, the lottery results were a huge victory for the Hornets.
Now, though, Charlotte is faced with a bit of a dilemma. The projected second overall pick for most of the season, and the consensus #2 player in the class in the most recent $DRFT rankings, is Scoot Henderson of the G League Ignite. The star guard is the kind of player that could change the course of any franchise for the better.
The debate, though, comes into play with his potential fit on the Charlotte roster. Would Scoot and LaMelo Ball be able to mesh, and would the Hornets want to take that chance? Brandon Miller has also made a push to be the #2 prospect in this class behind Wembanyama, and the Alabama forward is an easier fit to picture in Charlotte.
The Hornets still have more than a month to answer that question. Whether they decide to go with Henderson or Miller—or possibly go in a completely different direction—is yet to be determined. In the aftermath of the lottery, though, we here at No Ceilings decided to ask that question today. What do we think the Charlotte Hornets should do with the #2 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft?
Metcalf: If drafting for fit, Brandon Miller is the easy pick as he also has tremendous upside. However, I remain in the camp that Scoot Henderson is the second-best player in this class. The obvious concern is that the Hornets already have an All-Star point guard on the roster in LaMelo Ball. While Ball is an excellent player, he wouldn’t stop me from taking Henderson. It may be an awkward fit as the individual impact of their playmaking may be diluted by playing together, but both have shown some competency at playing away from the ball. They could produce a stellar transition offense, and their halfcourt offense would likely have excellent ball movement. The bigger concern comes on the defensive end, but Steve Clifford has proven to coach his teams up on that end. Even if the fit doesn’t work, Henderson would allow the Hornets to potentially shop Ball. Moving him for the sake of it doesn’t make sense, but by selling high and bringing in a bunch of pieces that complement Henderson, the Hornets could kick-start their rebuild. Scoot Henderson should be the pick at #2.
Rucker: I’ve said throughout the entire process that I believe Scoot Henderson should be the #2 overall pick regardless of how the lottery played out. Scoot has the tools to be that special of a player and a potential franchise-altering piece. There’s going to be plenty of debate when it comes to the “fit” in Charlotte. Do you go with the best available player on the board? Do you lean more towards a “need” when it comes to a player like Brandon Miller? Charlotte has desperately needed to add shooting over the years. There will be plenty of talk about the importance of wings with the modern NBA and it’s well-deserved. But does Charlotte want to be the one that passes up the potential of Scoot Henderson? The decision for Charlotte is do you believe that both Henderson and LaMelo can play together. LaMelo has shown that he’s a gifted playmaker who can also play off the ball. While Miller has everything to be a welcomed addition to the Hornets organization, I’d be going with Scoot and the potential of a dangerous backcourt to grow with.
Nick: Once upon a time, way back in 2018, the Sacramento Kings were faced with a decision. The Phoenix Suns had telegraphed that they would be taking DeAndre Ayton with the first overall pick. The Kings had jumped up from the seventh-best odds to end up with the #2 overall pick, and Real Madrid phenom Luka Doncic was on the board. Instead, Vlade Divac elected to take Marvin Bagley III with the second pick. There were plenty of reasons given at the time for why the Kings opted for Bagley III, but one of the rumored reasons was that Divac was worried that Doncic would take the ball out of the hands of De'Aaron Fox.
Is that an over-the-top analogy to make for this particular situation? Absolutely. Is this an unfair statement to make about the future potential of Brandon Miller and one that I don't agree with when it comes to Miller's NBA projection? Also yes. Was that last paragraph absolutely brutal to write as a Sacramento Kings fan? No comment. However, the underlying point here remains the same for me. Luka Doncic was a truly special prospect, and the Kings set themselves back half a decade by not taking him. Brandon Miller could easily end up being an All-Star or even an All-NBA player, and he is a much easier fit to project since the Hornets already have an All-Star point guard in LaMelo Ball. With all of that in mind, Scoot Henderson would have to be truly special to be worth the risk of alienating your best player instead of making a much safer pick.
I think Scoot is truly special. It may seem strange given how the lottery balls ended up shaking out, but I would be making this case no matter who ended up with the #2 overall spot. Scoot is good enough in my eyes to make the potential risk of a non-ideal fit more than worth the potential reward.
Corey: Coming into the draft cycle I thought it’d be a no-brainer to take Scoot Henderson with the second pick. I even wrote a preseason article titled “Scoot Henderson is an Outlier” after watching his rookie season in the G-League. I still believe he has that superstar potential and so I don’t fault anyone for feeling that Charlotte should run to the podium for Scoot. However, it’s super important not to get too anchored in your beliefs when it comes to scouting. When you see evidence that shifts your perspective, you have to consider it. Brandon Miller’s play this season forced me to consider it, and I believe Charlotte should too. It’s not that Scoot and LaMelo can’t fit together—they can—but I believe Brandon Miller is also an elite prospect and due to his plus size and shooting stroke fits the vision of the modern NBA a little cleaner than Scoot. I still believe Miller has skills in his bag that he didn’t show off during his freshman season. With that said, Miller is far from a perfect prospect, but here’s the thing: neither is Scoot. I think Scoot has some real warts, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about them. I think the snapshot we’ve gotten of the playoffs this year shows how hard it is to build a championship team around that archetype…unless you’re an outlier. Scoot just might be. Brandon Miller might be too. When we look back on the draft it never plays out how the consensus viewed it in the moment. I’ve been higher than consensus on Miller since the pre-season; no reason to stop that now.
Nathan: What to do with the second overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft will be one of the most talked-about headlines in the community leading up to June 22nd. The thing is, to me this isn’t much of a debate. I get that we should always have an open mind about options in the draft when it comes to better fits, player chemistry, character, skill level, and athletic ability. But Scoot Henderson has been the second-best player available on my personal big board this entire cycle, and I refuse to waver now.
What he brings to the table as a guard prospect in terms of pace, court presence, steadiness playing out of pick-and-roll sets, mid-range shooting, and point-of-attack defense is too good of a package to pass on, especially considering he’s a special athlete with a physical build ready to dish out punishment to anyone who tries to stop him. His speed, explosiveness, and ability to change gears all stood out during his time with Ignite over the last few years. Even though I can go on and on about on-court reasons for selecting Scoot, his character off the court is tremendous from every piece of intel I’ve heard. He’s a relentless worker, and someone who believes in himself and is willing to put in the work to be the best version of himself. The picture I’ve painted is one of a star who can help carry a franchise, whether he’s the first or second-best player on the team; certainly an organization's starting point guard.
Given that I’m not nearly as confident in LaMelo Ball becoming the leader a team needs to win a championship, he is not stopping me from drafting Henderson. Great players tend to figure out how to play with one another, and there are ways for Ball and Henderson to play off one another. But if Ball doesn’t live up to expectations, then he becomes a potential trade chip in an absolute worst-case scenario with Henderson left as part of a lethal screen-and-roll combo with Mark Williams. Brandon Miller will be a good player, that’s not the debate. If I’m drafting this high, I want to bring the right person into my locker room, not ONLY the best player. For those reasons, Henderson is my clear-cut choice at #2.