RTC NBA Draft Profiles: John HensonPosted by EJacoby on June 24th, 2012
The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: John Henson
School: North Carolina
Height/Weight: 6’11” / 215 lbs.
NBA Position: Power Forward / Center
Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery Pick
Overview: John Henson is long, and John Henson is skinny. These are two things we’ve known since the top five recruit stepped on campus as a Tar Heel in 2009-10, but we’ve also gotten to see him grow significantly as a player for three years in a North Carolina uniform. Henson led the ACC in rebounds and blocks in each of the last two seasons, putting up total averages of 13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks in 2011-12 on 50% shooting from the field. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons, as well. He has insanely long arms, posting a wingspan of 7’5” and standing vertical reach of 9’4” – by far the best of any prospect. He’s eight inches from the rim when he extends his arms, which is why he can swat away anything near the basket. But he’s also quite mobile moving in and out of the paint, and he’s a really smart player. Henson shows refreshing personality in interviews and is a leader on the floor as the chatty anchor of the defense. Offensively, Henson remains a work in progress but has improved exponentially since his early days at Carolina. He can now keep defenses honest with a decent mid-range jumper, and he has go-to moves in the post that he’s comfortable with. He uses both hands very well on offense as well as defense, so he presents some different, crafty looks to opponents. Henson is painfully skinny but continues to put on more weight, really filling out better in the past few years. Despite his thin frame, he still challenges every shot at the rim and attacks defenders at the basket with vicious dunks. He knows what he can’t do, but he’s quite good at the things he can do on the floor.
Will Translate to the NBA: Henson is an elite shot-blocker, possessing the length, positioning, timing, and athleticism to swat or alter all kinds of shots. He shows terrific discipline as well, rarely biting on shot fakes; he averaged under two fouls per game last year. Rebounding is his other key strength, and his box-out fundamentals, athleticism, and anticipation on the boards will all translate well. His high basketball IQ and craftiness to score near the basket will help him at the next level, too. His decent shooting touch will keep defenses honest.
Needs Work: He’s still quite skinny, especially for a 21-year-old, and needs to put on 10-15 pounds of muscle to survive long-term in the NBA. He was a terrible free throw shooter at 51.1%, worrisome that he will just get hacked anytime he’s close to scoring near the rim. Along those lines, he also struggles to finish through contact and rarely connects for three-point plays when his motions are altered. Working on his strength and his shooting stroke are key. He’s also a fairly limited passer and ball-handler that gets in trouble when he tries to do too much with the ball.
Comparison Players: Henson draws comparisons to any number of long, skinny guys who have made a living in the NBA as elite defenders and decent offensive contributors. Veterans Marcus Camby and Samuel Dalembert come to mind, as do younger guys Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright. Take your pick here, but expect Henson to go through a developmental process similar to how Randolph and Wright have needed a few years to feel comfortable enough offensively to earn major minutes. But Henson is intriguing because of his feel for the game and ability to use either hand equally well, so he presents unique looks for a rebounder/shot-blocker.
Best Case Scenario: Will Henson be a specialist in the NBA, carving out a simple niche as a reserve, high-energy defensive presence? Or will he develop into a well-rounded player who can get you 10-15 points on offense as well as anchor a team defensively? In the best case scenario, Henson continues to fill out strength-wise and improve offensively at the same rate that he’s shown in college, enabling him to play multiple positions on the floor and contribute on both ends. It might take a few years, but Henson can become an elite NBA shot-blocker while holding his own in the post — ideally as a starting power forward but someone that can mix and match with different lineups like Serge Ibaka with the Thunder.
Best NBA Fit: Henson’s energy and defensive skills can be a plus for any team, but he’ll best thrive alongside skilled offensive bigs. The Detroit Pistons look like a strong fit at #9 alongside Greg Monroe in the post, who’s their most skilled offensive player but also needs a shot-blocking big to complement him on D. If top 10 is too high for Henson, the Houston Rockets at #14 or #16 are a great fit, a team in need of true center size to complement Luis Scola once it loses Samuel Dalembert after next season.
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Evan Jacoby. He can be found on Twitter @evanJacoby.