Among the most intriguing interviews for Portland Trail Blazers Media Day, 2023 was newly-drafted point guard Scoot Henderson. Selected by the Blazers third overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, Henderson will be expected to fill the shoes of departed superstar Damian Lillard. The press got their first shot at the rookie at the Media Day podium today.
Here’s video of the interview:
Here are highlights of the conversation.
On Portland’s new style of play:
I’m trying to push the pace every single time I get the ball, whether I get the rebound or whether I’m running to the corner, really focusing on the pace and crashing. Little things like that are going to make us a very good team...
On mileposts in his first season as a player and leader:
Finding who I am as a player, figuring that out. Right now I know what I can do and I know I can do many things throughout the game. I think my biggest thing is to push the pace and just be that vocal point guard, just be another guy on the team that’s encouraging. Always making sure I’m patting my teammates on the back. Always making sure we’ve got the next play, we’re good. Little things like that goes a very long way with the teammates, around the coaching staff as well, and the organization. That’s where I think I can really grow and be that guy...
Whether he was in touch with Damian Lillard during the transition:
There was no like, me trying to leave him alone cuz of all this. It’s a business at the end of the day. I know that I learned that. I was just focused on me and the team and the people that were there on the court with me every day in the offseason. That was my main focus...
...There was little talks like that and greetings and whatever, but there was no, you know, too much communication there.
On whether he’ll miss Lillard more or cherish extended minutes:
I think I’ll gain a lot from just learning from my mistakes. Chauncey [Billups] as a coach, I know he won’t give me too many chances, but I know he’ll give me a chance to learn and go through it, especially for my first year, first couple of games, I know he’s going to let me figure it out myself...
...I will miss the chance to learn from Dame but we also have Anfernee Simons and JG [Jerami Grant], guys that have been around him, guys that might not be Dame but guys that know a lot and have seen a lot through an 82-game season.
On whether replacing Lillard adds pressure:
Just because people think I want to be the new Dame, I don’t even think like that. There’s no pressure. I’m Scoot Henderson. I’ve never been pressured like that. The only pressure that I have is from myself, the pressure I put on myself to be the best version of myself that day, to maximize that day and go out there and kill my opponent, to go out there and help my team out on the win. I don’t think there’s pressure on me to be the new Dame. I’m not trying to be the new Dame. It’s a new era for a reason, so I’m here to be Scoot Henderson.
On maximizing his production:
I don’t try to do things that I’m alright at. I’m going to go out there and do things that I know I’m great at. That’s getting downhill, that’s spreading the love, that’s hitting the open shots and creating my own as well. I’m not trying to just be a guard. I’m trying to be one of the premier guards.