Scoot Henderson, Brandon Miller Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

NBA Draft Buzz: Argument for Brandon Miller over Scoot Henderson Gains Traction

Jonathan Wasserman

Every NBA team had its front office in Chicago for the NBA combine, an event valued for both scouting and networking.

The week-long event came right after the draft lottery, giving everyone something to talk about.

Bleacher Report was there to take in the basketball-related activities and keep our finger on the pulse of the current draft discussion. We spoke with scouts, executives and agents and about prospects, the process, gossip, possible outcomes and what's next.

From here on out, prospects will be in heavy workout mode, traveling from city to city for auditions. And there's a lot that's yet to be decided beyond the No. 1 pick.

Brandon Miller in Play for Charlotte Hornets

Brandon Miller, Alabama Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Much of the draft discourse in Chicago following the lottery centered around whether the Charlotte Hornets will take Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller at No. 2.

There is a current belief that members of Charlotte's front office think Miller can be a star. The idea that Scoot Henderson is the obvious Victor Wembanyama consolation prize has lost strength over the last few months. Some noted that people made up their minds on Henderson too early, especially after his big game against Victor Wembanyama in Las Vegas. Henderson, who missed time with injuries and wound up shutting down his season just over a week into March, shot 39.7 percent since January 8.

Others suggested that teams may still have more confidence when evaluating Miller's success in a familiar NCAA setting, compared to Henderson's in a ball-dominant role and the G League's freer-flowing pace.

To some, Miller's 6'9" size, shot-making and live-dribble passing create a projected archetype (big scoring wing) that screams safe, valued and high upside. Meanwhile, a team like the Hornets, who ranked dead last in offensive efficiency, could fear adding a 6'2", poor-shooting point guard (32.4 percent, 2.7 3PTA). Henderson took the second-most mid-range shots during the G League's regular season, yet he only made 34.8 percent of those attempts.

There is still a contingent of scouts who think the Hornets would be making a mistake by taking Miller over Henderson. Miller, who turned 21 years old in November, shot just 40.0 percent and 31.2 percent from three during the second half of Alabama's season (18 games). Some scouts view Henderson as an easy best-player-available pick that the Hornets can't afford to pass on, regardless of how the team thinks he'll mesh with LaMelo Ball.

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak raised eyebrows after saying, "I think we can be a little bit picky and take into consideration not only the overall talent but also the position."

Based on conversations in Chicago, we've updated our latest mock draft by moving Miller to No. 2.

What Rockets Like About Their Position at No. 4

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Rival teams believe James Harden's return to the Houston Rockets is certain, and thus doubtful Houston trades up for Scoot Henderson. But if Harden isn't headed to Houston, Henderson would address the team's current roster needs.

A source told B/R the Rockets are content with their choices at No. 4, specifically Amen and Ausar Thompson. It's likely that one of the twins will be selected at that spot since Wembanyama, Miller, and Henderson are the presumed top 3 picks.

Although we slightly favor Amen over Ausar, teams don't perceive a significant difference between them. Though neither participated in drills or pro days at the combine, new video of Ausar's shooting and tweaked mechanics have made it to scouts, and they sound encouraged by the tape.

If the Rockets anticipate signing Harden after the draft, Ausar's shooting would make him a better fit. Amen, on the other hand, is a more natural playmaker but less suited for an off-ball role.

Moving Up The boards

Ben Sheppard, Belmont Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images

The consensus among scouts was that four players are making significant moves up draft boards following the NBA combine.

Nobody seems to be rising more than Belmont's Ben Sheppard. We're hearing he's generating first-round interest after his 25-point game on Thursday, erasing some skepticism about his production in a relatively weaker Missouri Valley Conference.

We frequently see at least one team each put stock into a standout Combine scrimmage performance, from Andrew Nembhard's and Jalen Williams in 2022 to Bones Hyland's and Quentin Grimes' in 2021. This year, it will be Sheppard's performance. He's jumped to No. 26 in our updated mock draft.

Santa Clara's Brandin Podziemski also drew rave reviews, particularly after Wednesday's 10-point, seven-rebound, eight-assist performance in 21.5 minutes. His 19.9 points per game in college speaks to his shot-making skill, but scouts were especially impressed by Podziemski's decision-making, poise, rebounding and defense. That versatility should give him extra cushion at the next level, in case the firepower doesn't fully translate.

He's expected to draw mid-to-late first-round consideration and more interest from teams looking to trade up if he's still there in the second round.

Every scout Bleacher Report spoke to also mentioned Amari Bailey, who operated as a lead point guard and consistently made high-IQ passes. It's a continuation of his late-season play at UCLA when Bailey took on more on-ball reps, showcasing his craftiness and playmaking.

He also scored 17 points and 19 points in two separate scrimmages, creating his own shot and demonstrating versatility inside the arc. NBA teams will be eager to assess his three-point shooting up close in workouts, though scouts do sound relatively optimistic.

Oliver-Maxence Prosper also earned himself workouts and first-round consideration following Wednesday's scrimmage. Scouts don't expect him to be there in the 40s or 50s, with the assumption that someone will want to gamble on a 6'7" wing (in socks) with 7'1" length, an outstanding motor, plus athletic ability and just enough flashes of shooting potential.

Early Second Round Will Have Surprise Names

GG Jackson, South Carolina John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Teams are starting to see serious depth in this draft class, and we could see some promising talent still looking for a home in the second round. The early part of the second round figures to be a popular trade-up area for teams looking for value.

Standouts during scrimmages at the NBA combine could push some of the non-participants down. Maxwell Lewis, Noah Clowney, Kobe Bufkin, GG Jackson, Rayan Rupert and Leonard Miller skipped the games despite their varying positions on draft boards.

There is also some speculation that Wake Forest's Bobi Klintman could have a promise in the 20s, given his decision to opt out of the combine after averaging just 5.3 points. Last year, Peyton Watson averaged 3.3 points at UCLA and wound up in the first round despite not scrimmaging in Chicago.

Don't Count Out Non-NBA Combine Invitees

Colin Castleton, Florida Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images

Getting left off the NBA combine list isn't a great sign for a prospects' chances of getting drafted, but teams are still showing interest in some non-invitees. They're just doing so quietly behind the scenes, hoping to keep their sleepers as hidden as possible.

Some agents are frustrated by the Combine invite process, which calls for teams to vote for their favorite G League Elite Camp prospects to the NBA combine. Teams are telling agents they did not vote for certain prospects in hopes of limiting their exposure. If a team likes an Elite Camp prospect and feels it can get him late in the second round or undrafted pool, that team has no incentive to put him on a stage for the other 29 prospects to see.

Certain prospects who didn't make the NBA combine are receiving assurances about signing two-way contracts, whether they are picked or not. Keep an eye on Florida's Colin Castleton, USC's Drew Peterson, Rutger's Clifford Omoruyi, TCU's Emmanuel Miller, Illinois' Matthew Mayer, Alabama's Charles Bediako and Detroit's Antoine Davis, Elite Camp standouts who weren't voted to move on.


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