The Rookie of the Year award seems like it’s already predetermined between Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama, but Scoot Henderson has a different idea. In a recent interview, Scoot guaranteed he would win the ROY award. In the past ten years, the ROY has averaged 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists per game on 46%/32%/74% shooting splits. Keeping this in mind, let me show you how Scoot can win this award.
Chet Holmgren’s team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, possesses perhaps the most exciting team in the NBA. Spearheaded by the electric Shai Gilgeiuos-Alexander and Josh Giddey, the Thunder already have a great young core. Holmgren will slot into the starting five, replacing Jaylin Williams, who handled that spot last year. What will hurt Chet’s chances at Rookie of the Year is simply a lack of offensive touches. Between SGA, Giddey, and Tre Mann, they handled the ball a majority of the time. While Chet isn’t a playmaker, Giddey and SGA need the ball in their hands to be effective for the team. SGA is known for his explosive athleticism that predicates beating people off the dribble, while Giddey is the opposite. Giddey watches the defense and picks them apart, sort of in the style of Luka Doncic, without the fancy dribble moves. Part of Giddey’s game is to grab the rebound on defense and push the tempo up the court. This could hurt Chet’s rebound percentages as well. I expect him to start slowly while coach Mark Daigneault figures out how to fit Chet into the game plan. It’s also worth noting Chet’s injury suffered last August. After playing in a Drew League game, Holmgren sustained a Lisfranc injury to his foot. It’s a broken bone in the middle of your foot. Feet injuries in big men are always scary because the human body isn’t made to be seven feet tall. It’s worth noting because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement rule that to be eligible for awards, players have to play at least 20 minutes and play 65 games. If Chet is out for an extended time, he could not qualify for the award.
Victor Wembanyama joins a fully depleted San Antonio Spurs team. Last year, the leading scorers there were Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassel (although he only played 38 games). The Spurs traded Jakob Poeltl back to Toronto, freeing up the center space for Victor this year. While Johnson is a competent scorer, there is no doubt that teams will be keyed in on Wemby. Players are always aware of the new number one pick and actively hunt them out to give them their “welcome to the league” moments. Especially when it comes to playing in the paint, I’m sure strong centers like Steven Adams will look to beat up on Wby throughout the night. While he does have a post presence with his height and elusiveness around the rim, the 7’4” center has the dribble moves of a guard, which could be lethal on the fast break, but his slight frame is worth noting. Much like Chet, there has been an injury history with Victor. In 2020, he developed a stress fracture in his fibula. In 2021, he broke a finger with a bone contusion in his shoulder. Last June, he suffered a Psoas injury, a muscle that runs from your spine down to your groin and hip.
Now that we’ve looked at Chet and Victor, let’s see how Scoot will win Rookie of the Year. Scoot Henderson is in the best spot to be successful between the three players. Scoot will serve as Damian Lillard’s backup, and who better to learn the point guard position from than Dame? While some have speculated that Lillard will be traded before the season started, it seems those talks have stalled, benefiting Scoot’s development as an NBA player. Focusing on Scoot’s positives, he is an athletic marvel. He’s 6’2”, but his wingspan is an amazing 6’9”. It’s no surprise that Scoot can finish in traffic at a high level with this body. He’s also very strong and has a great vertical.
Scoot will also be one of the fastest guys on the court, and pairing him with Shaedon Sharpe will provide us with a Blazers version of an AND1 Mixtape. His go-to offense is beating people off the dribble, but he has the basketball IQ to keep his head on a swivel for open teammates. While the comparison is lofty, I can see a form of Russell Westbrook here. His ability to beat defenders off the dribble will cause defenders to crash the paint, leaving sharpshooters open for corner threes. The Blazers have players on the team that can shoot, like Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons, and Matisse Thybulle. He’s also no slouch on defense, as his quick feet keep him in front of players, and his decision-making can lead him to a couple of steals per game. It’s worth noting now that Dame seems to be on his way out that there is no pressure to perform, meaning Scoot should be able to freelance when the ball is in his hand. If Dame does get traded, it’s assumed he would take over point guard duties, given that Simons isn’t a point guard.
Going back to the 17/6/5 line from above, I do not doubt that Scoot can get to these numbers in his rookie year. His offensive ability will get him to the free throw line, his athleticism will get him his six rebounds, and the five assists won’t be an issue when defenders are crashing the lane to prevent his scoring. Between Chet and Victor, you have to keep in mind injuries. On top of that, Chet may not see the ball enough, and Victor may get shut down towards the end of the year if the Spurs are still the worst team in the league. There is a road map for Scoot winning the Rookie of the Year award, and I would take Scoot to win in a heartbeat.