As the NBA Draft and offseason are fast approaching, trade speculations around the league are in full swing.
Shams Charania of the Athletic reported that the New Orleans Pelicans are interested in moving up to the top three of the NBA Draft to select guard Scoot Henderson. The most likely pick available in the top three is the no.3 that belongs to the Portland Trail Blazers. Considering the number of reports about the Charlotte Hornets leaning toward Brandon Miller with their 2nd-overall pick, Henderson should be available with that third pick. Charania’s reporting suggests that Portland’s pick is available, which will cause more teams to get involved. Can the Washington Wizards be one of those teams?
Scoot Henderson would be a tremendous start to the rebuild for the Washington Wizards. He would immediately be the face of the franchise, and the most highly-touted Wizards prospect since John Wall.
Henderson also provides the athleticism and playmaking that the Wizards desperately need. He is a physical specimen with broad shoulders, a muscular frame, and a 6’9 wingspan. He is an explosive athlete with an elite first step and quickness. He can create his own shot and finish around the rim. Most impressively, he is a very good passer for his level of dynamism. He could have easily been a no.1 overall pick in a draft class that didn’t have a generational talent like Victor Wembanyama.
Is there a path for the Wizards to move up in the Draft to select him? The Wizards can make the Blazers a solid offer, whether it beats the Pelicans’ or other teams’ offers remains to be seen. A potential deal between the two teams probably looks something like this:
The Wizards not only end up with Scoot Henderson, but also get another promising scoring guard in Anfernee Simons, and an overpaid but productive-when-healthy center in Jusuf Nurkic.
Portland, on the other hand, finally pairs Damian Lillard with another star Bradley Beal. They also add more shooting with Corey Kispert. Furthermore, they only move down five spots in the draft, potentially still able to draft a contributor or flip that pick again in a separate deal. To balance the trade, the Wizards could tack on a future first-round pick. The protections and the year on that should depend on what other offers the Blazers have on the table.
If the Blazers are set on trying to contend with Damian Lillard, this trade makes sense for both teams. The Blazers make a run for it for the next few seasons, and the Wizards get their backcourt of the future and expedite the roster teardown.
Whether Washington’s package beats other offers is unclear. If the Pelicans include Brandon Ingram or Zion Williamson in their offer, that probably is a more attractive return for Portland.
Nevertheless, the Washington Wizards should try their hardest to land Scoot Henderson. Swinging for the fences in the draft is the only way out for the Wizards, and a prospect of Henderson’s caliber is a home run.