|PER||PER Against (Net)|
|Gerald Henderson||13.4||13.1 (+0.3)|
Strengths: After 5 seasons in the league, Gerald is who he is. A decent midrange shooter who plays solid defense on the ball, and can provide a spectacular highlight on either end of the court, using his length and leaping ability to soar for a dunk or block at the rim.
Gerald plays to his strengths on offense, looking to come off screens for a catch and shoot jumper around the top of the key. When he gets the ball at the three point line, Henderson will look to take one hard dribble in either direction, then rise up for a jumper. The thing is, Henderson is not an elite midrange shooter – here is his shot chart for the season, with yellowing indicating performance comparable to league average (green being above average):
So, when I am listing this as a strength, it is more in Gerald recognizing what works for him and sticking to that. This limited move pool keeps Henderson’s turnovers down, and he operates offensively without the ball in his hands much. Depending on the matchup, Henderson can also move down to the post, to his use his elevation to get off turnaround jumpers off a post up.
As for Henderson’s defensive value, it is impressive (as you can see from his opponent’s PER listed at the top of the post – I believe 82games.com may be overstating things a bit, but regardless, you won’t find many players with as many minutes who fared better). Henderson moves well to stay in front of his man, fights over screens, and is able to challenge many shots with his previously mentioned length and leaping.
Weaknesses: “The glaring offensive weakness is the outside shooting, but it did improve drastically this season.” – that’s from last season’s review of Gerald. And it’s true again this year, as Gerald improved to shooting 35% on three pointers this season. The problem is that Gerald still doesn’t have the confidence or consistency to expand his use of the shot, as he still only attempted 1.5 threes per game, the same as a year ago.
In fact, Gerald’s reliance on midrange jumpers increased this season, with Al Jefferson clogging up the lane in Charlotte this year. Here is Gerald’s shot chart, by distribution, and you’ll see just how much of his attempts came from the midrange area:
That’s up from 48% of his attempts in this range in 2012-2013. The long 2 is considered the worst shot in basketball, due to its expected value, and it has become a larger portion of Gerald’s offense, as he does not have the range to spread the floor around the Bobcats’ new low post centerpiece.
Reasons for Optimism: Gerald has shown improvement in his 3-point shooting percentage over the last couple of seasons, and that is an area that would really help the Hornets out – they need floor spacing for Kemba and Al Jefferson. Gerald does have solid shooting numbers on the short threes from the corners (though in very limited attempts), so there is also potential the Hornets will continue to work with him on being in position to receive the ball in those spots. In watching tape for this post, I saw instances where Gerald would be open in the corner, and float up the wing rather than waiting in this opportune spot, which would ultimately result in a lower reward shot as he would step into a long two rather than the relatively short 3.
Reasons for Pessimism: We are 5 years into Henderson’s career and he wasn’t a one and done college player. At this point, there may not be much more growth or improvement in Henderson’s game. The Hornets have Henderson under contract for 2 more seasons at $6M per – that deal was signed after his career season last year, before some offensive regression this year, operating in a different role. The dip in field goal percentage and no signs of expanded use of the three are worrying that Henderson’s contract was earned while putting up stats on a losing team and does not accurately reflect his utility on a playoff squad.