The Rising Stars is a showcase for the NBA’s finest young talent—this year, the event will be headlined by LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Cade Cunningham and Josh Giddey. Even if the actual game tends to be hostile towards basic basketball things like “defense” or “trying hard,” the Rising Stars game has sneakily been All-Start Weekend’s most reliable generator of cool shit as the league's future superstars try to make their mark. Here is where Kyrie Irving crossed Brandon Knight straight into hell; where Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dion Waiters engaged in an epic scoring duel that lives in NBA Twitter lore; where Jason Williams threw the elbow pass, which still remains the coldest pass ever thrown. And here is where the broader NBA viewing public will be introduced to Scoot Henderson, the 17 year-old G League Ignite point guard who’s making waves as a potentially generational talent.
For the first time, the NBA Rising Stars game will include non-NBA players—in addition to the 24 first- and second-year players who are customarily part of the event, four prospects (Jaden Hardy, MarJon Beauchamp, Dyson Daniels and Henderson) from the G League Ignite team will participate in the festivities. While Hardy, Beauchamp and Daniels are all solid players who should be first-round picks in this year’s draft, Henderson might be the best American guard prospect since John Wall in 2010, even if he’s not draft-eligible until next year.
The scion of a mini basketball dynasty (three of Henderson’s sisters played D1 college basketball and his family owns a training facility in their native Georgia), Henderson is a dangerous cocktail of brawn and brains. Already an elite athlete, Henderson combines Russell Westbrook’s aggressive explosiveness with Ja Morant’s aerial weightlessness. No guard can keep Henderson out of the paint and no big man can contend with his deep bag of finishes.
Moreover, Henderson already has a deep understanding of the game’s deeper nuances—like all great guards, he unbalances defenders by toggling between speeds before zooming to the hoop. Too, he’s a burgeoning passer who leverages his rim pressure to create opportunities for his teammates. Despite being the youngest player in the history of the G League, Henderson averages 14.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
Since Henderson plays in the G League and will remain largely out of sight for the next 18 months, this will be the first (and potentially) last time that he’ll play on a stage this big until he makes his NBA debut in October 2023. As such, the presence of Henderson turns the Clorox Rising Stars game from a relative afterthought into a must-watch.