THE CHANGING OF THE SHOOTING GUARD
He’s only had five years in the NBA, all with the Bobcats, but it seems like Hendo has been around forever. Maybe it’s his game, and old school two-point shooting, iso pull-up combo that would have played well several decades ago. Or maybe it’s his personality, steady, calm, calculating. He’s a pull-up jumping, Duke-defending, always there at the two spot never changing. After an offseason of additions, he may have to.
Until training camps gets going, it is tough to say with any certainty what Gerald Henderson’s role will be. Clifford has some pieces to play with and has been noncommittal to Lance playing the two or the three, opening the possibility for Henderson to keep his starting spot. But he has to play better than he did last season. And he knows it.
He’s been a beacon of stability through the ups and mostly downs of Bobcats basketball and for that he was rewarded with an extension of his rookie contract. But the calvary is here and he’ll have to prove himself worthy again, or adjust to a new role for the next few years.
Doug Branson @QCHDoug
At this point, it should be clear Gerald Henderson is a limited player on the offensive end. Henderson has spots on the floor that he can be very effective from, most notably the short-corner, but it seems very hard for him to deviate from those spots and develop into a more versatile offensive player.
Last season, he struggled from the field, shooting just 43.3% – a career low since his rookie campaign. Adjusting to playing with Al Jefferson likely had something to do with this due to the fact that Hendo had to attempt to mimic a floor spacer. Hopefully I’m not breaking news by stating spacing the floor and making defenses pay with the jump-shot isn’t his strong-suit. With Jefferson occupying the left-block, Hendo had to operate from the right side of the floor often, but it’s obvious he’s more comfortable shooting from the left side. Have a glance at the shot chart from last season:
Hendo has progressively attempted more field goals in every one of his five NBA seasons so far, and has also attempted more three-point field goals every season – the fact that Henderson continues to take more three’s is encouraging, but it’s clear the comfortability factor is lacking, and always has been. He’s not a rhythm shooter – has to catch the ball and load up before letting it fly.
The attempt at development has been there when you glance at all of the numbers, but the weaknesses are glaring. One has to wonder if Hendo isn’t simply a middle-of-the-road offensive player. Actually, don’t ponder that – he is. And that’s okay, especially the way the roster is constructed now – there’s room for Hendo to slide over and play a role coming off the bench, which is very likely what his game is more suited for.
Henderson would look like a shoe-in all-star if you saw the guy go through a solo offensive workout. What I mean by that is this – above-average athlete, good footwork, obvious strength, and lights out when he gets to his spots on the floor. Problem with all of this is that in the NBA, just like every other professional sport, you’re scouted to a tee, and your opposing defender is prepared to take away your strengths. In my personal opinion, I just don’t believe Hendo has done enough to work on counter moves, and different ways to score the basketball. This has stunted his development offensively and lowered his ceiling as an overall player moving forward.
Again, good athlete, solid footwork, strong – all aspects of an individual that should define an above average defender. Above average probably does still describe Hendo correctly on this end of the floor, but he’s definitely showcased inconsistency as well throughout his career.
According to 82games.com Hendo allowed his opponent to perform only at a 11.9 PER on average – that’s impressive. In fact, there were only seven players in the entire league that held their opponent to a lower PER. This stat is very interesting because it proves how vital Hendo was to Charlotte’s elite defense last season – he hasn’t gotten enough credit for his development on the defensive end last season, so here’s to you Hendo…
With Hendo likely sliding into a role off the bench next season with the arrival of Lance Stephenson, there is absolutely no reason for him not to be lockdown defensively against second unit players. His role will be to defend the oppositions best wing scorer from the second unit, which does sound simpler, but chasing around the Jamal Crawford’s of the world isn’t cake. Anyways, point is this: Henderson will be coach Clifford’s defensive anchor off the bench, much like he was in disguise for the starting unit last season.
Oh, and just because, #NeverForget:
Spencer Percy @QCHSpencer
Dakota Schmidt @Dakota_Schmidt
NUMBER TO KNOW
30% — Percentage of Henderson’s FGAs within 10 feet of the basket
Last year was a step backwards for Henderson; he scored less, and less efficiently, despite Charlotte adding an offensive anchor in Al Jefferson. It’s a little counter-intuitive — with Jefferson carrying the scoring load, Henderson should have seen easier and better shots.
While he did benefit in some ways, with more of his points coming off assists, he tended to drift further from the basket. Here’s the breakdown of FGAs by distance for each season of his career, courtesy Basketball-Reference.com:
In 2013, about 39.2% of his shots came within ten feet of the basket. Last season, that dropped to about 30%, with most of the difference shifting to the mid-range. That’s almost always going to mean a loss in terms of efficiency.
It’s not really a question of decision-making (or effort) — Kemba Walker saw a similar decline in shots within 10 feet, and his efficiency suffered as well. Simply plugging in Jefferson means the team had much better options close to the basket, not to mention a big body that at times clogged the lane. With Josh McRoberts hanging outside the arc and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist relying on hustle points, that left a lot of real estate just outside the paint.
Still, finding that three-point stroke is more crucial than ever for Henderson. Consistently stepping out those few extra feet would be a boon for both the team and for Gerald.
With the signing of Lance Stephenson, and with PJ Hairston waiting in the wings, this is probably Henderson’s last lap with Charlotte. (If he even makes it through the offseason without being traded.) The value of shooters is skyrocketing, and Henderson might struggle a bit to find the right home for his old-school game.