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Season Report Card: Gerald Henderson

PER PER Against (Net)
Gerald Henderson 16.48 15.28 (+1.2)

Strengths: Hendo’s biggest strength continues to be his ability to create his own shot — especially his own jump shot. The majority of his shot attempts continue to be from ‘mid-range’ — this season Hendo attempted 47.9% of his shots from 10-20 feet. Traditionally, he’s been great at coming off curls in offensive sets, but teams have keyed in on this strength over the years and it’s been more difficult for Hendo to come off screens and make clean catches with space — the adjustment has come with Hendo having to improve in ISO situations. 54.2% of Hendo’s FGM were assisted on this season while 45.8% came off ISO, or unassisted situations — so it’s fairly clear that he can score coming off screens (catch-and-shoot situations) and in ISO situations, having to find his own shot.

Henderson figured out something else this season that is vital to his scoring ability moving forward — getting to the foul line. He averaged 4.6 FTA/game this season, a +0.9/game improvement from last season — averaging 82.4% from the stripe this season as well, which is a +6.4% improvement from last season. 33.7% of Hendo’s points this season came from ‘Mid-Range’, while 24.5% came from the free throw line. The charity stripe is the most efficient place to score from on the floor (uncontested shots), so this is quite encouraging.

Henderson is a talented offensive player and can score in many different ways inside the arc — improving from 3 (33% 3FG this season). Defensively, he’s also an above average player — can keep ball handlers in front of him, is consistently in the correct position on the floor and can make defensive plays around the rim. Defense is going to have to continually be a priority for Hendo as it will give the Bobcats more flexibility moving forward, especially if they decide to favor more small ball.

Weaknesses: The glaring offensive weakness is the outside shooting, but it did improve drastically this season. It’s still quite clear that Hendo is uncomfortable taking the 3, but he at least faced the fact that the shot had to be added to his offensive toolbox. He took an average of 1.5 3PA/game (56 more 3PA than ’11-’12) this season, shot 33% from behind the arc and 97% of his 3PM were assisted on — so yeah, Hendo’s not a threat to hurt any defender with the 3 on an ISO set. He’s not there yet, but this season was a huge step in the right direction for Henderson’s improving outside shot.

Ball handling has always been somewhat of an issue — Hendo is good in catch-and-face situations where he can use the power dribble/use his body to get to the rim, but he’s weak at breaking down defenders with the dribble on an island. At 6’5 and a natural SG, Hendo needs to continue to develop his ball handling + come up with ways to break down defenders with the dribble — this will only make him more dangerous offensively and increase the level of attention team defenses must put on him.

Reasons for Optimism: We saw improvement in a lot of areas this season, but the overall numbers don’t jump off the page at you compared to ’11-’12. The biggest reason to have hope for Hendo moving forward is focusing on his numbers after the all-star break and believing this is the caliber of player he’s capable of being, consistently — 30 games, 35.9 MPG, 46.2% FG, 18.9 PPG, 4 RPG, 3.4 APG.

Reasons for Pessimism: I think it goes without saying that the biggest reason for pessimism coming up is considering Hendo could very well end up with a new team this summer. He’s due a $4.3 million qualifying offer from the Bobcats, but will likely get a better offer than that on the open market. The question will be how much the Bobcats will be willing to stretch in order to match. I’ve heard many put Hendo into the same category as DeMar Derozan, who just signed a contract extension worth $9.5 million/year last summer — I don’t think that Hendo is getting that kind of money, but with his performance towards the end of the season it’s definitely fair to assume that there’s a team out there that’s willing to bid for the right to overpay Henderson. The Bobcats would be smart to cap their bidding war number at about $6.5-7 million, annually.