PHOENIX – Portland Trail Blazers head coach, Chauncey Billups, is determined to provide rookie point guard, Scoot Henderson, with the support system he wished he had when he entered the NBA. As the third overall pick in the NBA draft, Billups understands the challenges and pressures faced by young players. Unlike Henderson, Billups did not have the guidance and patience he needed during his rookie season and was eventually traded. Billups has promised Henderson that he will be the mentor and support system he needed at his age, and he is committed to staying consistent in that role.
Henderson, who was the top point guard selected in the 2023 NBA draft, has been given the opportunity to become the Blazers’ starting point guard after Damian Lillard’s trade to the Milwaukee Bucks. In the preseason games, Henderson showcased his skills with an average of 13.5 points, 5.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. To aid Henderson’s development, the Blazers have assembled a unique point guard support group. Billups, along with assistant coach Scott Brooks, veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon, and former NBA point guard Pooh Jeter, are all dedicated to mentoring and guiding Henderson.
Having a strong support system is crucial for young players, and Henderson acknowledges the importance of the coaching staff and organization’s backing. He feels confident and respects the coaching staff, knowing they have his back. Billups believes in the importance of supporting the players, and he recognizes Henderson’s potential to be molded into an exceptional player. He describes Henderson as competitive and willing to listen and learn, which excites him.
Billups, a former NBA player himself, had a challenging start to his career. He was traded during his rookie season and faced injuries before establishing himself as an elite point guard with the Detroit Pistons. Reflecting on his trade, Billups’ former coach, Rick Pitino, admitted that they should have been more patient with him. Henderson, upon learning about Billups’ trade, expresses his disbelief and acknowledges how difficult it would be for such a trade to happen in today’s game.
Comparing the support system in Portland to his own experience, Billups highlights the lack of support he received as a rookie. He had pressure to perform, an impatient coach, and a lack of experienced mentors. In contrast, Henderson has a coaching staff filled with former NBA point guards, including his former teammate, Pooh Jeter. Additionally, Henderson has the opportunity to learn from Malcolm Brogdon, a seasoned NBA guard.
Brooks, who coached Russell Westbrook during his early years in the NBA, sees similarities between Westbrook and Henderson. He describes them as intelligent, tough, competitive, and determined players who have a strong work ethic. Henderson has the potential to follow in Westbrook’s footsteps and reach greatness with the guidance of Billups and the support from the Blazers’ coaching staff.
Billups also acknowledges that if Lillard had not been traded, he would have been an excellent mentor for Henderson. Lillard himself credits Mo Williams and Earl Watson for their guidance early in his career. However, with Brogdon already stepping up as a mentor for Henderson, there is still valuable support for his development.
In conclusion, the Blazers are determined to provide Henderson with the mentorship and support he needs to succeed. With Billups leading the way as an experienced NBA veteran, along with a team of knowledgeable coaches, Henderson has a strong support system that will help him navigate the challenges of his rookie year and beyond.
Emily Turner is your source for everything NBA. As a dedicated basketball enthusiast, she offers insights into NBA games, player highlights, trade rumors, and the league’s evolving dynamics. Emily’s love for the sport shines through in her comprehensive NBA coverage.