On the night of the 2023 NBA Draft, it’s likely that the Portland Trail Blazers will be tasked with answering the question of whether to draft according to the “best fit,” or merely the most talented prospect available.
In today’s mock draft conducted by ESPN’s NBA Draft experts Jeremy Woo and Jonathan Givony, the two projected that the Blazers would focus on the latter, opting for Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 selection (subscription required).
With the San Antonio Spurs snagging Victor Wembanyama and the Charlotte Hornets taking Brandon Miller, the Blazers are mocked to take Henderson, also deemed the “best available” at that spot. In analyzing the fit, Woo offers an interesting viewpoint as it relates to both his fit with Damian Lillard, what it would mean for the All-Star guard’s off-ball play, and a long-term outlook:
The matter of best available here wasn’t especially complicated, as Henderson sits inside the general consensus top three and has a case to go ahead of Miller as the No. 2 prospect, at least for some teams. The question of Portland’s best at this spot is more up for debate, considering its guard-heavy roster. Ultimately, Henderson is physically ready and more experienced than the other top candidates at this spot, and if you view him as more of a natural combo, the pairing with Damian Lillard would be imperfect but potentially quite dangerous for defenses. Henderson would supply the Blazers’ backcourt with a more downhill, attack-minded dimension, would allow Lillard to spend more time operating as a threat away from the ball and would presumably become the next face of the franchise in time.
Needless to say, the projected pick offers up some question as to what that could mean for the more immediate future of Anfernee Simons, still an exceptionally-talented 23-year-old fresh off of career-highs in points (21.1), assists (4.1) and field-goal percentage (44.7).
Also of interest is that the ESPN mock sees Amen Thompson sliding out of the top-six altogether, noteworthy for those of the belief that the No. 3 selection can be flipped for a pair of elite picks inside the top-half of the first round. The rest of the article can be viewed above.