Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Xavier Henry
Height/Weight: 6’7″, 210 lbs
NBA Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Projected Draft Position: Mid- to Late Lottery
When Henry came to Kansas before last season–after initially committing to Memphis
before the Billy Gillispie/John Calipari
circus came to town–everybody had high hopes for the swing man coming out of high school with a NBA veteran’s physique. Early in the year, Henry’s exceptional performance led one SI/CBS pundit
to say that Henry was every bit as impressive as John Wall.
As you know that level of performance did not continue for the rest of Henry’s freshman season and his numbers tailed off considerably. Henry was able to occasionally show signs of brilliance later in the season including back-to-back games of 24 points (on 9/16 FG) and 23 points (on 9/13 FG) against Colorado
respectively in late February. However those signs of brilliance were frequently interrupted by games where Henry was a non-factor including the Jayhawks season-ending loss to Northern Iowa
in which Henry was physically superior to anybody the Panthers could throw at him, but Henry managed just 8 points on 6 shots (although he did pull down 8 rebounds). While Henry’s play as a freshman is enough to merit first round consideration, it is his immense potential that makes him a lottery pick.
Will Xavier Henry live up to his NBA potential?
Will Translate to the NBA: Just looking at Henry you can see how he would fit into a NBA roster right away. With his strength, fluid game, and sweet left-handed shot he could be a nice change of pace player right away and could develop into an All-Star swing man. If Henry develops the ability to hit his shot off-the-dribble consistently he could become a very dangerous player in a few years. In either case he should be a swing man on NBA rosters for years to come. The question is will he be a complimentary player or will he be the go-to-guy who should be able to score from just about anywhere on the floor.
Needs Work: While Henry has one of the prettiest jump shots and is one of the strongest players at his position in the draft his mid-range game could use a little work particularly when he has to create on his own. Likewise he also has trouble getting to the basket against top-flight competition. When he is able to get the ball around the basket he is a solid finisher, but he still needs to develop the ability to get himself to that position without relying on an offensive rebound or a great pass from one of his teammates. On the defensive end Henry needs quite a bit of fine-tuning before he can become a solid NBA defender. I am not sure if he will ever become a lock-down NBA defender, but with his strength and (decent) athleticism he should at least become a respectable defender with a little work.
The names that I see thrown around most often is James Posey
(or Jimmy Jackson
if you want to go back a few years). I think Henry poses significantly more talent than Posey so that’s a pretty weak comparison, but I think the Jackson one might fit (hopefully without the pop singer involved
–who would it particularly if be in this generation? Rihanna?) particularly if Henry doesn’t develop the off-the-dribble game like so many Kansas fans hoped for last season. [Ed. Note: Henry’s agent should be extremely happy if Xavier puts up 25.7 PPG even in an abbreviated NBA season.]
If Henry were to develop all those aspects he could be something like a poor man’s Paul Pierce
, but that’s a stretch as Henry would have to develop almost perfectly to reach that level.
Best Case Scenario: Henry develops that off-the-dribble game and is able to make defenders guard him in a more neutral manner rather than crowding him. That would open up his jump shot, which we already know is solid. If that happens Henry could develop into something somewhere along the lines of Jackson and Pierce (probably never approaching the peaks of either player–certainly not Pierce). Ideally Henry would get paired with a penetrating point guard or a slashing shooting guard who would be able to kick it out to him for open looks or to let him go by recovering defenders who are trying to get back in position. If things work out just right for Henry he could develop into a 20 PPG and 8 RPG guy, which would make him a borderline All-Star for years to come.
2013 Projection: Unlike his teammate Cole Aldrich, we suspect that Henry will struggle to find his optimal role early in his career, but his outside shooting capability should make him a valuable second unit player when he enters. The question for Henry’s head coach will be how long to leave him in based on how many points he gives up on the other end, which will be the limiting factor in his playing time early in his NBA career.
Best NBA Fit: Both NBADraft.Net and ESPN.com have Henry going to the Milwaukee Bucks at #15, which would put Henry just outside the lottery. While the Bucks have a solid nucleus and a potentially great young PG in Brandon Jennings, we can’t help but wonder how great Henry would look in a Bulls uniform if he fell two more spots to #17. At the very least he could be playing alongside Luol Deng with Derrick Rose orchestrating the offense and Joakim Noah cleaning up the garbage on the inside. And that’s not even considering anything to do with potential free agents who might end up in a Bulls uniform in the next few months. . .