Scoot Henderson

And-Ones: Embiid, French National Team, 2023 Draft, Henderson

A native of Cameroon, Sixers star Joel Embiid also has U.S. and French citizenship, meaning his choice of which country to represent in international play will have a major impact on what the field looks like at the 2024 Olympics. Teaming up with Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama would give France the world’s best frontcourt and make Les Bleus a legitimate gold medal threat.

Speaking to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Gobert was asked about the possibility of Embiid joining the French national team and said he’d welcome the addition of the MVP runner-up. However, Gobert’s answer wasn’t unequivocal, and he said he doesn’t plan to personally recruit Embiid.

“For me the most important thing is if his heart tells him to be a part of Team France,” Gobert told Vardon. “I want him to do it for the right reasons. As long as he understands that the French national team is different than the NBA. We have rules, we have things that we do. Sometimes we all have lunch and dinner together — it’s not everybody doing their own thing. These are two different teams.

“But I think the main thing for us, for him and for me is that I want to make sure that he does it from his heart. And if he does that, I think he would be an amazing addition for our team. … It has to come from him. You are either all in, or you’re not. You can’t just show up.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The latest 2023 mock draft from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) moves Alabama’s Brandon Miller up to No. 7 and Arkansas’ Anthony Black up to No. 11. Reece Beekman has also moved into the first round, with Givony observing that the Virgina guard’s defensive ability gives him a “very high floor.”
  • Beekman also earned a spot on John Hollinger’s list at The Athletic of 10 returning NCAA players who have impressed him as potential NBA prospects. Iowa’s Kris Murray, Illinois’ Terrence Shannon, and Xavier’s Colby Jones are among the other college standouts singled out by Hollinger.
  • Mirin Fader of The Ringer takes an in-depth look at the consensus No. 2 prospect in the 2023 draft class, profiling rising G League Ignite star Scoot Henderson.
  • The NBA is now allowing sovereign wealth funds to invest in its franchises as minority stakeholders. Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic explains exactly what that means and lays out why it might be risky, noting that the league could have to make decisions on sovereign wealth funds associated with autocratic countries.

And-Ones: Henderson, Top Offseason Adds, 2022 Re-Draft

G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, the consensus No. 2 prospect in the 2023 draft class, has been diagnosed with a nose fracture after entering the concussion protocols and missing the team’s last four games, writes Cody Taylor of Rookie Wire.

Although Henderson has already been sidelined since November 18, the injury isn’t considered a long-term one and he’s being listed as day-to-day for the time being. According to Taylor, there’s a chance Henderson will be cleared to return on Sunday when the Ignite host the South Bay Lakers.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Draft Notes: Wembanyama, Henderson, College Prospects, Oden

With the French League season underway, Victor Wembanyama continues to display the talents that make him the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN. His Metropolitans 92 team is off to a 6-1 start with Wembanyama ranking second in the league in scoring, third in rebounding, first in blocks and fifth in usage rate.

Wembanyama is learning how to use his 7’4″ frame to his advantage, challenging shots on defense and unleashing a turnaround jumper that’s nearly impossible to defend. He’s shooting just 33% from three-point range, a drop-off from his 9-for-18 performance in two games in Las Vegas, and he’s still adapting to the more physical style of play in France, but his coach, Vincent Collet, says that’s to be expected.

“Defense is different [in the United States],” Collet said. “He has more room in the G League game. And probably the referees are protecting more. Sometimes they grab him in France. So that’s something special that didn’t happen [in Las Vegas]. I don’t think he has to play to make seven threes each game.”

Givony notes that Wembanyama will have another international test this week with two FIBA World Cup qualifiers. France will travel to Lithuania on Friday and will host Bosnia and Herzegovina next Monday.

There’s more on the 2023 draft:

  • Scoot Henderson, expected to taken second overall, is off to a more uneven start with the G League Ignite, Givony adds. He posted 25 points and seven assists in his first game, but took some questionable shots and didn’t attempt any three-pointers. He had 25 points again Sunday in his second game, but he needed 28 shots and made critical mistakes down the stretch in a one-point loss. Givony describes Henderson’s best plays as “All-Star caliber,” but says he still needs work on his decision making, especially in the half court.
  • With the college basketball season tipping off today, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report offers a look at the best prospects and several others who could rise up draft boards by next summer. Included in Wasserman’s top tier are Arkansas’ Anthony Black and Nick Smith Jr., Baylor’s Keyonte George, Alabama’s Brandon Miller, Duke’s Dariq Whitehead and Villanova’s Cam Whitmore.
  • Former No. 1 pick Greg Oden, who’s now director of basketball operations at Butler, can understand the exposure that Wembanyama is getting at such a young age, per Dana Hunsinger Benbow of The Indianapolis Star. “Find something that you enjoy doing and stay with that and always keep that a part of you,” Oden said in offering advice to Wembanyama. “Because this journey is going to mature you a lot faster than everybody else.”

And-Ones: Henderson, 2023 Cap Room, Fredette, Hammon

After giving fans the opportunity to see more of top prospect Victor Wembanyama by announcing that all of this season’s Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 games will be available to watch for free on the NBA app, the league is taking a similar path with consensus No. 2 prospect Scoot Henderson.

According to the NBA, a series of G League Ignite games will be available to stream for free on the NBA App this season. The league announced that Henderson and the Ignite will be featured on the app eight times in November and December during the NBAGL’s Showcase Cup, starting on Friday — the Ignite will host the Oklahoma City Blue – the Thunder’s affiliate – tonight in the season opener.

Neither Wembanyama nor Henderson is taking the traditional U.S. college route that most top picks have in the past, opening the door for the NBA to take unique steps to market two players who have the potential to become perennial All-Stars in the league within the next few years.

Here are several more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes an early look at which teams do and don’t project to have cap room during the summer of 2023, identifying the Rockets, Pistons, Spurs, Magic, and Pacers as some of the teams with the most flexibility.
  • Former NBA lottery pick Jimmer Fredette, who didn’t have much NBA success but became a star in China, now hopes to be part of Team USA’s 3×3 basketball team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Veteran broadcaster and analyst Fran Fraschilla is coaching the U.S. team and recruited Fredette for the qualifying process, including this week’s AmeriCup, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I think Jimmer, unfortunately, was never in the right places in the NBA that valued what he can do,” Fraschilla said. “He can give us six to 10 weeks a year and he’ll have a great shot at being part of our Olympic team if we qualify.”
  • Las Vegas Aces head coach and former Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is joining ESPN as an NBA studio analyst for the 2022/23 season, as Richard Deitsch of The Athletic details.
  • Sam Yip of HoopsHype takes a look at the NBA players who took the biggest year-to-year pay cuts in league history, starting with Celtics big man Blake Griffin.

And-Ones: Breakout Candidates, Wembanyama, Thornwell

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype polled 20 NBA executives on their top three breakout candidates for the 2022/23 season and found that Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey was the most popular pick. While I’d argue that last season represented a breakout year for Maxey, some executives have far higher expectations for him going forward.

“Maxey’s going to be better than James Harden,” one general manager said to Scotto. “He just keeps getting better and better and will be a huge reason why they have success this season.”

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Magic forward Franz Wagner, and Rockets guard Jalen Green were among the other popular breakout picks, based on the responses Scotto got from executives. Interestingly, Warriors big man James Wiseman and Pistons forward/center Marvin Bagley III were each picked as this year’s top breakout candidate by one GM.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In his latest look at the top prospects in the 2023 NBA draft class, David Aldridge of The Athletic passes along several entertaining quotes from NBA executives, including one Eastern Conference exec’s response to whether Scoot Henderson could surpass Victor Wembanyama as next year’s No. 1 pick: “Scoot’s good, but, no. Short of Wembanyama having murdered somebody, there’s just no way.”
  • Veteran guard Sindarius Thornwell has signed with Frutti Extra Bursasport, the Turkish team announced this week (via Twitter). Thornwell has appeared in 160 total NBA games and played for New Orleans and Atlanta in 2020/21, but wasn’t in the league last season.
  • Longtime NBA referee Tony Brown, who officiated over 1,100 games, including one in the 2020 NBA Finals, passed away on Thursday after a fight with pancreatic cancer, according to his family (story via ESPN.com).

And-Ones: Maledon, One-And-Done, Wembanyama, Ignite, Selden

After being waived by the Rockets this week, French point guard Theo Maledon isn’t eager to head back to Europe to resume his playing career, according to a Eurohoops report. He played for ASVEL in France from 2017-20 before being selected 34th overall in the 2020 NBA draft.

Maledon is still just 21 years old and showed some promise during his two seasons in Oklahoma City, so he looks like a good candidate to get another NBA opportunity. He’ll clear waivers on Thursday, assuming he goes unclaimed.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • There are no indications that the NBA’s one-and-done rule for draft prospects will be scrapped anytime soon, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider-only link). While commissioner Adam Silver would like to eliminate the rule, the players’ union would want “major financial concessions” from team owners in order to agree, according to Givony, who adds that some teams believe allowing younger prospects to enter the NBA would water down the league’s talent level.
  • In a separate Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Givony breaks down last week’s Victor Wembanyama vs. Scoot Henderson showdowns, writing that Wembanyama is the best NBA prospect he’s seen since LeBron James. Givony also explains why Wembanyama is in a great developmental situation with the Metropolitans 92 in France and says the NBA’s G League Ignite program looks like it’s here to stay.
  • Former NBA wing Wayne Selden has left his Italian team, Tezenis Verona, his agency told Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. Verona put out a statement announcing that the club intended to take legal action in response to Seldon’s departure, prompting agent Charles Misuraca to accuse the team of breaching Selden’s contract agreement by not paying him.
  • Just how valuable is it to acquire the swap rights to a future first-round draft pick? Zach Kram of The Ringer explores that question, ultimately concluding that it’s pretty rare for a team to jump up significantly in the draft and the result of a pick swap.

And-Ones: Wembanyama, Henderson, Satoransky, Randall

Star prospect Victor Wembanyama will play for France’s national team in November during the next round of World Cup qualifying games, per an Associated Press report. The French club is set to face Lithuania on November 11 and will play Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 14.

Wembanyama is coming off a pair of eye-opening exhibition performances against the G League Ignite this week, as he solidified his place as the No. 1 player in the 2022 draft class by pouring in 73 points and blocking nine shots in the two games. The 18-year-old big man, who told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press that his goal is “to be like something you’ve never seen,” is drawing rave reviews from many of the NBA’s biggest stars.

“He has the chance to be one of the best — not in his age, not in Europe — but one of the best to ever play this game,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said of Wembanyama, according to Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com. “We have never seen someone like that before. I think it’s a good challenge for everybody in the league, to have somebody who’s 7-foot-2 and is able to shoot over you and dribble like he’s a guard and block shots and run down the floor fast. We gotta get ready for this kid, you know? He’s going to be really good.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • While Wembanyama is considered a generational talent and earned more buzz this week, star Ignite guard Scoot Henderson isn’t ready to concede the top spot in next year’s draft, as he tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape. He also downplayed the idea that he’ll have a long-standing rivalry with the Frenchman. “I’m not worried about him,” Henderson said. “I’m worried about the next level. I’m worried about guarding Steph (Curry).”
  • Jonathan Givony’s latest 2023 mock draft at ESPN (Insider-only link) has Overtime Elite guard Amen Thompson as the No. 3 pick behind Wembanyama and Henderson, followed by Arkansas’ Nick Smith and Villanova’s Cameron Whitmore.
  • Speaking to Alex Molina of Eurohoops, veteran guard Tomas Satoransky expressed pride that he can say he was an NBA player, but admitted that he went through some “ups and downs” in the league. Satoransky said that he’s happy to be back in Europe, playing for Barcelona, because his new deal offers more stability for him and his family than he would have had in the NBA.
  • Former UT Martin guard Craig Randall, who averaged 26.7 PPG for the Long Island Nets last season, tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN that he turned down NBA camp offers that included guaranteed money. Randall instead opted to head to Australia’s National Basketball League, where he’ll have a chance to play a significant role for the Adelaide 36ers. Randall and teammates Antonius Cleveland and Robert Franks all have NBA out clauses in their contracts with Adelaide, according to MacMahon.

Agent: No Plan To Shut Victor Wembanyama Down Until Draft

After an excellent performance against the G League Ignite that included 37 points, seven three-pointers and five blocked shots, NBA executives are suggesting that it might be in Victor Wembanyama‘s best interests to sit out until the 2023 NBA draft next June, but his agent says that’s not on the table.

NBA people are telling me to shut him down, and we are not going to shut him down,” Bouna Ndiaye told Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony of ESPN. “If we came with that kind of talk to [Wembanyama], he will look at us and say, ‘What are you talking about?’ He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better. With Victor, it’s basketball first and everything else second. He was so pissed off that he lost.”

The projected No. 1 pick is such a promising prospect that one GM thinks the French big man will have a major impact on the 2022/23 season in multiple ways.

Victor distorts basketball reality,” the GM said. “The tank/trade market will really shift after that showing. It feels like last night will start a race to the bottom like we’ve never seen.”

Another GM, this one with a chance to land the No. 1 pick, thinks Wembanyama is a generational talent.

He’s a 7-foot-4 (Kevin) Durant who blocks shots — and he’s not even close to what he’s going to be. He will be the most hyped player since LeBron (James),” the GM told ESPN.

As Wojnarowski and Givony write, after Wembanyama shined on national television in the U.S., multiple executives told ESPN that they have talked to their team owners about the steps necessary to tank and land him, with both sides gaining a “better understanding of the transformational value” of selecting Wembanyama. The presence of G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, the projected No. 2 pick, could further incentivize teams to roll the dice on tanking in ’22/23, per ESPN’s duo.

While the bottom three teams in the standings will each only have a 14% chance each of landing the top pick after the NBA flattened the lottery odds in 2019 to disincentive intentionally losing, that might not matter for the upcoming season. ESPN’s duo suggests slow-starting teams might consider dealing away impact players earlier than normal for a better chance at Wembanyama, even though the past few seasons have seen more buyers than sellers due to teams believing they have a shot at the playoffs via the play-in tournament.

Community Shootaround: Best Potential Landing Spot For Wembanyama

There were more than 200 NBA scouts and executives in attendance on Tuesday to watch the projected top two picks in the 2023 draft square off, as Victor Wembanyama and French club Metropolitans 92 faced Scoot Henderson and the G League Ignite, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Henderson, widely viewed as the second-best prospect in next year’s draft class, lived up to that billing, racking up 28 points to go along with nine assists and five rebounds. He led the Ignite to a 122-115 victory.

But it was Wembanyama who stole the show, even in a losing cause. The 7’3″ Frenchman poured in 37 points on just 20 field goal attempts, knocking down seven three-pointers and blocking five shots. According to Matt Williams of ESPN (Twitter link), only one player in NBA history has ever made seven threes and blocked five shots in a single game before — Danny Green did it in a triple-overtime game in 2014.

Wembanyama admitted after Tuesday’s game that the longer G League quarters affected his stamina, but his incredible performance showed why he’s considered one of the best NBA prospects in years.

“He was amazing,” Metropolitans 92 coach Vincent Collet said, per Myron Medcalf of ESPN. “What he can do with his size, his agility, mobility, not only his ability to shoot the three, moving very well. He even made a couple of very good passes. I think he (had) a real good game but he also will learn from the first half. He has to fight more because he knows to expect that kind of aggressive defense.”

As Jeremy Woo of SI.com writes, after Tuesday’s game, the idea of tanking for a shot at Wembanyama may look even more appealing to a handful of the NBA teams likely headed for a lottery spot this season.

As we outlined when we conducted our over/under polls last month, the Thunder, Pacers, Spurs, Rockets, Jazz, and Magic are projected to be the NBA’s bottom-feeders in 2022/23. But even the league’s very worst team will only have a 14% shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery, so a number of clubs will be in play for Wembanyama.

In the wake of Tuesday’s impressive showcase, we want to know what you think. Which lottery-bound team would be the best landing spot for Wembanyama?

You can interpret that question in any way you like — there are, of course, certain teams that might be more ideal for the big man’s development, while certain landing spots would just be flat-out entertaining. For instance, as Tom Ziller notes on his Substack, if the Lakers’ 2023 first-round pick lands at No. 1, the Pelicans would be able to swap their own first-round pick for it and pair Wembanyama with Zion Williamson.

Does that Pelicans scenario sound like one you’d want to play out? Or would you rather see Wembanyama join forces with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren in Oklahoma City; Jalen Green and Jabari Smith in Houston; Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner in Orlando; Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren in Detroit; or Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin in Indiana?

Head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!

London Johnson To Sign With Ignite For Over $1 Million

Point guard London Johnson will reclassify into the 2022 recruiting class and sign with the NBA G League Ignite this season, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Vecenie report. Johnson will receive the biggest contract handed out to an Ignite player to date.

The 18-year-old will earn more than $1MM, exceeding Scoot Henderson‘s $1MM salary. Henderson is considered the No. 2 prospect in next year’s draft.

“The main (reason) was being able to play against NBA talent and getting coached from the highest level NBA coaches,” Johnson said of his decision to join the Ignite. “Also, seeing the success from past (prospects), I really felt like I could create my own path and be successful myself.”

The 6’4” Johnson doesn’t plan to enter next year’s draft. He anticipates being in the Ignite program for two seasons.

A dual citizen of the U.S. and Jamaica, he played last season at Norcross High School in Georgia. Johnson played with Henderson briefly in Atlanta.

Johnson was considering North Carolina, Clemson, NC State, Virginia and USC before choosing the G League, according to The Athletic duo.

“I feel like my game will translate even better than it does in high school because of the spacing,” Johnson said. “I try to model my game after Chris Paul. He reads ball screens really well and can score from all three levels. He really tries to get his teammates involved, but also can score.”