When John Henson came to Chapel Hill three years ago the optimists kept saying to take a good look at him as it would be his only year donning the caroline blue. The pessimists kept talking about his lack of build, as they kept pointing out that “he was too skinny”. Being a realist I can say that in the three seasons under Roy Williams the power forward bulked up some, but more importantly become a much better player, and did so on both sides of the ball. Henson, who stands at 6’11″/215 lbs has a wing span of 7’5″, which makes him a heck of a shot blocker (averaging close to 3 per game this season), and helped him get ACC Defensive Player of the Year two seasons in a row. All of this is should make him a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft, while the fact that on offense he is still raw and that is free throw shooting is very poor, puts him out of a Top 10 picks for most analysts, lower (to much lower) for others.
By all means, when we speak of the forward he is not someone who does not have the talent to play at the next level. He has the down low moves, a decent range for a big and most of all is smart enough to know what he can or can’t do when on the court. But if he wants to see himself earning a pay check at the next level for more than one contract he is going to have to bulk up and raise his shooting his average from the charity stripe (51.1%) first and foremost. While also working on his range some more as well as his passing skills. Too many times when double teamed he tried to do things he shouldn’t have instead of simply dishing off the ball to the open man on the perimeter. Another flaw in his game is that he seems not to go up strong when he is hit. This is especially a problem due to the low free throw shooting he is showing right now. Having said all of that the reason why Henson is going to be in the National Basketball Association is because he has “potential” to be very, very good, and we all know how much teams/scouts love that word especially when attached to someone that tall.
While there is no doubt in my mind that Henson has the talent to play at the next level I have to draw a comparison to another couple of former Heels with him: Marvin Williams (Hawks) and Brandan Wright (Mavericks), who have needed time to find their small piece of the pie at the pro level. I do also think that Henson has a much better chance to out do both of these players do to his defensive presence that will earn him minutes as a sub from the get go and might, with work on the offensive side of the ball, get him into a team’s starting rotation some years down the road. Also, because of his good versatility he can manage to play multiple positions at the pro level.
When Thursday night comes around it’s going to be iffy if the power forward from Florida hears his name in the Top 10 selections, and if he does the only one that I truly could see making this move would be the Detroit Pistons, since it would make sense for this franchise to put a defensive minded player along side Greg Monroe, who has all but proven his values elsewhere on the court. However, more probable could be Houston which has multi picks in the mid teens, and which is need of a “potentially” good player in the middle for seasons to come. If both of these franchises pass on Henson I would see Orlando or Boston going for him, and if I had my choice I rather see him going to Bean Town where the expectations for him to perform from the get go would be a lot lower there. In the end I do not see Henson as an All-Star player for years to come but I do see him as a sort of defensive force for a team that does not need a ton of points from him.