With 21 games down, Portland Trail Blazers rookie Toumani Camara is perhaps the most delightful surprise of the team’s young season, while No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson has played surprisingly disappointing considering the massive hype.
This dichotomy was reflected in The Athletic’s “Bouncies,” which are national first-quarter awards handed out by writer Zach Harper. The awards honored Camara, drafted No. 52 in June’s NBA Draft, as the league’s “Best Second-Round Pick,” while Harper bestowed upon Henderson the dishonor of “Most Disappointing Rookie,” but noted things could turn around.
Most Disappointing Rookie: Scoot Henderson, Portland Trail Blazers. He was hurt and has plenty of time to prove himself, but Scoot (drafted third overall) has not been as advertised … yet. Runner-up: Amen Thompson, Houston Rockets.
The Trail Blazers acquired Camara from the Phoenix Suns along with Deandre Ayton in the three-team trade that sent Damian Lillard to the Bucks and Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson to Phoenix. The 23-year-old, 6-foot-7 forward has immediately impressed with his defensive abilities, playing his way into the starting lineup by picking up full-court the likes of Luka Doncic and making electrifying blocks at the rim. Camara’s offense could use some improvement (37.4% shooting on field goals, 25% shooting from 3), but his relentless hustle (2.1 offensive rebounds per game) and overall steadiness have made him a valuable contributor for Portland.
Slow out of the gates, Henderson was further slowed down by an ankle injury that kept him out nine games in November. The 19-year-old rookie has played somewhat erratic through his first 12 games, turning the ball over plenty and struggling to look comfortable while putting up difficult shooting percentages, including a rough 18% on 3s. However, Scoot has looked better since returning from injury, despite a tough game in his last outing against the Dallas Mavericks. Henderson has shown an ability to impact the game with his energy, defense and passing, even if his shot isn’t falling at a great clip. As Harper noted, there’s plenty of time for Henderson to improve and match play closer to expectations.
Elsewhere on the awards list, Oklahoma City Thunder center Chet Holmgren won “Best Rookie” and Miami Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. won “Steal of the Draft.”