The great Hornets debate: Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller?

The Charlotte Hornets have the second overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and it’s all but certain they are deciding between Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller with the pick. They’ve gone so far as to bring the duo in for a second round of workouts and interviews. Everyone has their preferences, and both players are good enough that the Hornets will be happy with whoever they come away with it, but it’s a fun topic to discuss. So we will do that.

Jonathan: Ever since the Hornets landed the second overall pick, I’d been all on board the Scoot train, but as we’ve gotten closer to the draft. I’ve started to come around on Miller. You still all in on Scoot?

Chase: I’m still all in. Though I totally understand the reasoning behind drafting Miller, it’s impossible for me to overlook the upside that comes with drafting Scoot and the intangibles he brings to the table.

Jonathan: Yeah Scoot’s intangibles and the wow factor he would bring are almost unmatched, but when looking at player archetypes and them most common path to success at the NBA level, you can see why teams would be enamored with Miller. The weirdness of last season might change this a little, but generally speaking, good teams have good wings or forwards that can shoot from the outside and create shots for themselves. Think Jimmy Butler in this Heat run or all of the success the Celtics have had with Jayson Tatum. And I don’t think a comparison between Tatum and Brandon Miller would be too far off. Coming out of Duke, Tatum was a 3/4 with some wiggle but a jump shot-reliant game that struggled to get all the way to the basket. Miller is similar, though he’s more proficient as a 3-point shooter than Tatum was at this point.

Chase: Agreed, 6-foot-9 wings that can make self-created threes or work for them off-ball, make plays for teammates and defend their position are insanely valuable. My biggest worry regarding Miller is the scalability of his handle and separation ability; he struggled to generate looks off the bounce inside the arc. Only 48 percent from two-point range on a heavy diet of rim attempts scares me a bit — his efficiency as a whole also went down as the level of competition he faced rose. With that said, he’s still a top-five prospect because that’s the only real question mark with his NBA translation. He’s an extremely well-rounded prospect.

Jonathan: Right. So I can see why the Hornets, and apparently a lot of the league, would value that. They’re just aren’t many 6’9″ guys that can create their own shots and lead a team. And teams that have those guys tend to be good teams. Plus the floor is high. If the creation ability doesn’t translate, Miller should at least be a 3&D forward with above average passing. That helps any team.

My worry with Scoot is that if the 3-point shot doesn’t come around, what does he look like as a player long term?

Chase: 3-point shooting is Scoot’s “swing skill” for sure. He got into the lane at will in the G League, but it’s fair to say that defensive intensity and quick rotations aren’t as commonly practiced there as it is in the NBA. If he shoots 32.4% 3P in the NBA like he did last season with Ignite, it’s really going to limit his ability to pressure the rim, finish and make plays. Maybe he looks something like Ja Morant does now, or even early-career John Wall. Those comparisons would probably be scaled back a bit too, since Morant is a more efficient finisher at the rim and Wall was one of the best passers in the league at that time. That’s still a valuable player and likely a long-term starter, but in the same vein as Miller’s low-end outcome, not what teams are looking for with the second pick.

Jonathan: So what do you see in Scoot that makes him the clear cut choice at 2 then?

Chase: Pairing LaMelo Ball with a guard who puts pressure on the rim and can get a foot in the paint at will, defends the point-of-attack and has the vision to operate as a secondary playmaker is the easiest way to optimize both players in my mind. Ball can float around the perimeter to hunt catch-and-shoot threes and be a dynamic connective passer when Scoot has the ball, and Scoot can work as a cutter and connective passer when Ball takes charge of the offense. The two players have perfectly contrasting skillsets that I think will play off each other well. Beyond the on-court fit, Scoot seems like the exact type of presence the locker room has missed the last couple years.

Rant over. What’s your case for Miller with the second pick?

Jonathan: Miller fits the archetype of the most common best players on teams–a big wing/forward that can get buckets and make plays for his teammates. He’s a more linear fit with Ball; Ball is the facilitator, Miller is the scorer, where Scoot’s fit with Ball is a bit more blurred. The Hornets need more effortless scorers and shooters, and Miller fits that bill.

Any final defense of Scoot?

Chase: At worst, Scoot can recapture some of the positive energy generated in 2021-22 when the Hornets were putting out highlight-reel plays every night and winning games, while giving the franchise another marketable star. At best, he and Ball are perennial All-Stars and one of the best backcourt duos in the entire league.


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