The Chicago Bulls have to address the point guard position this offseason regardless of how committed they are to getting Lonzo Ball back on track and they could find their answer at the top of the NBA Draft.
That answer could potentially be G League Ignite star Sterling “Scoot” Henderson, a 6-foot-2 point guard who has drawn some very lofty – and relevant – comparisons.
“Scoot would draw immediate comparisons to Derrick Rose because of his relentless downhill drives and explosive launches into the paint,” explains Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer who projects the Bulls to take the explosive youngster in his latest mock draft adding that Henderson would “infuse some purpose into a directionless franchise.”
But Henderson is the consensus second-best player in this draft and the Bulls are currently slated to fork over their first-round pick to the Orlando Magic this offseason completing their obligations from the trade that brought Nikola Vucevic to Chicago at the 2020 deadline. So how are the Bulls supposed to land such a talented player, especially if they aren’t guaranteed to have a pick at all?
“As of [March 6], the Chicago Bulls held better odds to win the NBA draft lottery at 8.3% than they did to make the playoffs at 6%,” reported NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C Johnson.
The odds have shifted after the Bulls’ 117-96 road win over the Denver Nuggets on March 7.
Per Tankathon, the Bulls have a 31.9% chance of their draft pick landing in the top-4. Naturally, that means they are expected to miss the postseason, a notion backed by FiveThirtyEight’s projection of 13% that the Bulls will indeed make the playoffs, still to Johnson’s point.
Despite that, they have little to no interest in trying to drive those odds up.
“To this point, the organization’s public stance has been to make the playoffs, not improve draft lottery odds,” Johnson notes.
Besides, getting into the top four of the draft lottery is one thing. Getting the No. 2 overall pick is another endeavor entirely.
Scoot Henderson Fits Bulls’ Needs
“Scoot Henderson…looks perfect for what the Bulls could use, a tough lead guard who can shoot,” argues Sam Smith of Bulls.com. “I’m not dismissing Ball, who with his shooting and size could play off the ball…A young, dynamic guard like Henderson could do for the Bulls, what [Ja] Morant has done for Memphis.”
Morant and Rose were both not only athletic but there are/were also faces of the franchise.
Henderson is averaging 16.5 points on 53.7% true shooting with 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in over 30 minutes per game for the Ignite.
“My best strength is to drive and kick, to go 100 miles per hour and still be able to see the whole court, and make quick decisions,” Henderson told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype in December. “I feel like I can damn near do it all at this point. I’m still working on my game, my three-point shot, and my mid-range shot, still perfecting getting to the cup. I’m watching film to try and be a smarter player and be a better defender. I’m getting better on defense.”
His defense, thanks to his stature, was one thing O’Connor warned could be an issue. But, with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, he has the length to challenge bigger point guards.
And, after knocking down just 27.5% of his threes during the regular season, Henderson connected on 47.1% of his deep looks during the G League Showcase while averaging 21.2 points on 58% true shooting with 6.0 assists, 4.3 boards, and 1.7 assists.
He’s also growing as a leader.
“I want to work on being vocal,” Henderson said, per Scotto. “I feel like, during adversity, I still want to keep bringing along my teammates. If we’re down a couple of points, I still want to have that same energy I’d have if we were up 20 points. I want to perfect that part of my game and my leadership.”
Leadership is one of many things the Bulls have lacked this season. That has particularly been true on the court distributing the ball, without Ball this season.
Bulls’ Lonzo Ball on Ominous Path
Ball’s situation has been compared to former Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy who had his career cut short due to knee injuries. It is trending in the wrong direction and one that Bulls fans are all too familiar with having witnessed Rose’s fast-rising star grounded following multiple devastating knee injuries.
He has resurrected his career as a contributor off the bench, though he is currently out of the New York Knicks’ rotation.
Ball was never as athletically gifted as Rose was pre-injury. But his lengthy and arduous road to recovery and into the player he has become is a cautionary tale.
Still just 25 years old, the Bulls still have high hopes they can get Ball back to full health. But it would be short-sighted to think they should just roll into next season unprepared much in the way they did this season.