|PER||PER Against (Net)|
|Gerald Henderson||14.06||13.3 (-0.49)|
Strengths: Mid-range jump shot and attacking the basket looking to score. Hendo isn’t extremely tall at just 6’5, but he’s got good strength at the SG position and plays bigger than his actual height. He’s got a good balance of torching defenders with his mid-range game and also getting to the rim, so the combo make him a tough cover. This season Hendo shot the highest percentage from the field of his career at 45.9%. 59.6% of Hendo’s made FG’s this season were assisted on, which is nearly an 8% drop from last season. The correlation to draw here is that Hendo was able to shoot a higher percentage from the field while likely getting far less open shots. The drop in % of FG’s assisted on means he was able to create many of his own attempts in isolation, one-on-one situations. This is evidence that Hendo’s offensive arsenal is surely evolving. He used many more post-up and baseline area spots to operate from this season and played more with his back to the basket. He caught the ball away from the basket, faced his defender and used the ball fake as well as many of the best scorers in the league this season. His fade away jump shot with defenders hanging all over him mocked Kobe’s this season. No, Hendo isn’t anywhere close to the player Kobe is, so that’s certainly not what I’m suggesting. His offensive game made huge leaps this season though considering the situations/scenario’s he was facing with this depleted offensive roster.
Hendo seemed to get torched by most team’s best scorers on a nightly basis, but he actually fielded the best PER Against rating on the team this season at 13.3. He’s still an above average defender and will certainly improve when the new coaching staff is put in place next season.
Weaknesses: No range. Hendo does not shoot 3-pointers like a starting SG in the NBA should. As versatile as he is within the arc, he’s really zero threat to defenders outside of it. Hendo shot 23.4% from downtown this season and that was the highest percentage of his career. You really don’t have to know much more. Look, it got better for him this season. At least he didn’t looked frightened to take that shot. The game against Miami early in the season in Charlotte where Hendo hit the 3-pointer to put the Bobcats ahead with less than 10 seconds to go, I thought, would push his confidence over the top and he’d start taking many more shots from out there. Especially when Coach Silas told me after the game that the play was drawn up for him, suggesting to Hendo that the head coach has confidence in you with that shot. Ended not being so for the remainder of the season, but the small improvement was there- baby steps.
Defensively, Hendo is one of the few guys on this roster that understands defensive principles to a tee. He talks on D, jumps to help and will contest shots at the rim. Problem is that he’s forced to guard the opposing team’s best scorer most night’s and has formed a habit of losing track of the ball because of that. Again, not a huge issue for Hendo. He’s the second best defender on this team behind Biyombo, but the defensive effort/spirit did diminish a bit this season. Then again, who’s didn’t?
Reasons for Optimism: There really are so many. If Henderson ever creates some shooting range into his offensive arsenal then he has the capability to be an elite scorer in this league and potentially an all-star. I’m telling you, he got that much better this season even though it may not have seemed like it. He needs help though. Hendo can’t carry the load offensively like he had to last season, his game simply isn’t built to support that. Yet. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities for Hendo to become a 18.5 PTS, 6 REB player/night for the Bobcats and I actually believe he will get his game to this level within three seasons.
Reasons for Pessimism: Injury. Charlotte picked up Hendo’s option for next season and he will now make just over $3 million next year. This means that he now has a clause in his contract for a $4.2 million qualifying offer that the Bobcats will have to match in 2013-14 in order to keep him. I’d pay that this off-season to keep Hendo and that proves my point that the only way he’s not going to be getting a better offer than that in 2013-14 is because of a serious injury. I don’t want injury or to lose Hendo in the next few seasons. I know, you’re cringing, but this section is for pessimism. So there.
Forecast: 2012-13: 16.5 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.5 APG. 2013-14: 18.5 PPG, 6 RPG. 2014-15: Gerald Henderson’s first all-star appearance.