With the season almost over, NBA GMs have their minds set on the NBA Playoffs. But for those teams that will be counting ping pong balls instead of playoff victories, the upcoming NBA Draft has many intriguing prospects that need to be recognized. So with March Madness over, Dime contributor Lucas Shapiro continues profiling players and giving them a team that would best fit their talent. Last week was Georgetown’s Greg Monroe, so now we’re on to Kansas’ Xavier Henry.
Player Comparisons: Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Jimmy Jackson
Take one look at Xavier Henry and you will think you are looking at a power forward. He is built like a house standing at 6-6 and 220 pounds. This great body enables Henry to overpower almost anyone in his way. The coordination that accompanies his frame enables him to be an inside-outside threat. Henry gets good elevation while soaring through the lane due to his strong legs. The one issue Henry has is his lack of explosiveness. This limits his ability to get creative on offense at times. It’s nothing that you can drastically improve upon which is too bad since it limits his potential. This would seem like a problem on defense, but Henry makes up for his lack of quickness with his 6-10 wingspan.
The best part of Henry’s game is his smooth jumper. He has great form and deep range. For a guy his size, he shoots the ball extremely well. He shot 41.8 percent from the three-point land and 45.8 percent from the field on the season, which are good percentages for a freshman. In the middle of the season, Henry did hit the wall with a nine game stretch where he could barely score. As this 19-year-old matures, this should not be a problem in the future. A great skill that Henry possesses is his ability to anticipate where the ball goes. This enables him to rack up rebounds and steals easily. He’s a good help defender, but he will struggle guarding many shooting guards that are quick. If he could land on a team with another versatile defender, Henry should be able to guard small forwards.
With a huge frame and a mature attitude, Henry looks like an instant impact player on paper. The one apparent issue with Henry is that he does not have good shot selection. For a guy who could nearly overpower anyone in college, Henry seemed too fond of his jump shot and chose not to drive a majority of the time. He will need to be more aggresive in the pros if he wants to hang around. His passive approach is what leads to slumps. He may be built for the long run, but it will be interesting to see if Henry can make a big impact right off the bat.
Is it worrisome that Kansas never lived up to the high expectations? In the last game of the season, Henry had only 8 points in 32 minutes. He has not proved that he can be a first option in college, so how can he be one in the NBA? Sure, he was only a freshman, but Henry still is fairly unproven. It is unlikely that he can be a franchise guy, but he can still be an All-Star caliber player. Overall, Henry can be effective in many ways but he might not have the potential to be a true superstar. It’s not a bad thing to be a second option.
Best Fit: Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA. It is a problem when Willie Green is one of your team’s best shooters. They need a true shooting guard and Henry fits in perfectly here. Andre Iguodala is a true small forward and the two could interchange. This is also a good duo on defense as well, since Iguodala can guard the faster wing players. The 76ers could try to go against the grain and try to replicate the strategy of the 2004 Detroit Pistons. They will not need to build around one superstar but will have five solid players that are threats to kill opponents on any given night.
Runner-Up: Sacramento Kings
Have you noticed anything in common with all of the Sacramento Kings? Most of the players on the roster are large for their position. Having a backcourt with Tyreke Evans and Henry would be punishing to a backcourt like that of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. Any team would have issues guarding this duo. It is also great since the two can switch off for good defensive match-ups. They are also a good tandem offensively since Evans is a great drive-and-kick player, which is perfect to get Henry many open looks.
What do you think?
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