Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown Could Be Very Good This Year.
To borrow words from the immortal Bill Walton: when it comes to the draft, the Bobcats have proven to be an absolute joke. Year after year the team reaches deep into its stocking of goodies, invariably returning with lumps of coal in hand. We’ve covered the subject over and over at the Baseline so I won’t get into it again here. Instead, allow me (for perhaps the first time in our blog’s three year history) to write in praise of a Bobcats draft.
Last June, the ‘Cats made team history by selecting two collegiate players who were NOT:
a.) Marginally Obese
c.) former BMX Euro-Champs
d.) Clinically Depressed*
*Ok, so maybe Adam Morrison isn’t officially ill – but his #3 overall selection surely led to an uptake in Prozac use amongst fans.
Yes folks, in the summer of 2009 the Bobcats really did select two quality, highly athletic wing players who figure to play prominent roles in the upcoming season.
Gerald Henderson SG, Drafted 12th Overall
It’s tough to criticize the Bobcats for drafting Henderson at 12. Sure, there were two ultra-quick PG prospects taken later (Ty Lawson at 18, Darren Collison at 21) but several other teams also passed and the Bobcats already had a diminutive point on the roster in D.J. Augustin. ”Psycho T” Hansbrough was taken by the Pacers immediately following Henderson but he looks to be at best a 10 year role player in the League. Two high risk/high upside SFs were taken at 14/15 (Earl Clark and Austin Daye) but neither have shown to be anymore capable than the ‘Cats own Derrick Brown (more on Brown later).
The one player who’ll probably haunt Charlotte three years down the road is UCLA’s Jrue Holiday who was taken at #19 by the Sixers. It’s hard to believe Larry Brown wouldn’t love to have a (barely) 20 year old lead guard on the roster who measures 6’4″ and could one day rival Rajon Rondo as the best defensive backcourt player in the game.
Stephen Jackson’s November arrival all but insured Gerald Henderson 2.0 (or “The Sequel” as I call him) a seat deep on the bench last season. JAX plays a metric ton of minutes and misses very few games and with the Playoffs within reach, Coach Brown elected to go with veterans Stephen Graham and Larry Hughes as backups down the stretch — though this is more the official story on Henderson not playing rather than the truth. The real story goes something like this:
“Larry Brown believes rookies to be liabilities and Gerald Henderson did nothing to prove otherwise.”
Henderson played a total of 355 minutes in 43 games and averaged a meager 2.6 points on 35% shooting.
Most of those 355 minutes were played during garbage time and since I covered almost all of the road games last season (most of them losses) I witnessed at least 347 of them.
Gerald Henderson is crazy athletic. He can block shots, jump the passing lanes for an occasional steal and drive to the paint with ease. His (much documented) failing is his inability to hit a jump shot. Watching Henderson last season reminded me of Crash Wallace’s first season in Charlotte — but much worse. I’ve never witnessed a flatter, uglier jumper in the pro game. You ever notice when professionals miss a jumper, the ball usually rattles out of the rim softly or bounces neatly off the square? When The Sequel misses, it’s no different than when you or I brick a shot. THUD. Just ugly. And his defenders play off, daring him to shoot.
As Henderson showed a decent ability to play in the post during July’s Summer League, I can only imagine how good he can be on offense (if?) once he figures out how to consistently hit a twenty footer.
On defense, Henderson is basically a clone of Tyrus Thomas/Young Gerald Wallace. Brilliant help defender, suspect on the ball defender. His athleticism demands that his opponent work for position but the intricacies of the game seem to have escaped him for now. Opposing guards would often fake Henderson into going for a block or steal and high screens would flatten him. Also, Henderson’s modest size and height for his position (6’4″) makes him a poor match for modern SFs. He’s strictly a two guard.
Despite the fairly negative comments above, I have a lot of faith in Henderson going into the season. He’s smart, has a great coach and comes from a basketball background. When the Bobcats drafted him last year, my first comments to fellow Baseliner Dr. E were, “He’s a poor man’s Kobe Bryant. From Philly, basketball playing father, privileged background and a Dookie.” (Remember that Kobe committed to Duke before bypassing collegiate ball for the NBA)
Henderson will need to channel some of Kobe’s dedication to excellence if he wants to succeed — he’ll be 23 in December so is starting much later in the pro game than Bryant. Henderson’s jumper looked better in the Summer League (although he still shot only 39% in 4 games) and that’s really the one element holding him back. He’s a solid free throw shooter (74%+) and can really drive to the basket, so if he could consistently hit a mid-range jumper (say ~44%), the rest of his offensive game will fall into place. With Stephen Jackson one year older and both Hughes and Graham gone to free agency, the opportunity will be there.
Derrick Brown SF, Drafted 40th Overall
Drafted just behind second round phenoms DeJuan Blair (37) and Jonas Jerebko (39) and ahead of Marcus Thornton (43) and Chase Budinger (44) Brown has the potential to be the star of an excellent 2nd Round.
Brown suffered under the Curse of Larry last season, accumulating 535 minutes in just 57 games even though he posted a solid 12.65 PER while scoring 3.3 points on 46% shooting. By “The Curse” I again mean Larry Brown’s prejudice against playing rookies. There were numerous games last season in which Derrick would check in, do something very good on offense, misplay a defensive switch and get yanked immediately. Ninety seconds and out. After the Bobcats acquired Tyrus Thomas from Chicago, Derrick was no longer needed as Boris Diaw’s backup and his minutes diminished even further.
At 6’8″ Brown is undersized to play the four but held his own last year, boasting a near identical PER at both forward spots (82games.com). He rebounds well for his size and is a beast in transition. Best of all, Brown’s body language suggests that of a ten year veteran. The game just seems to come to him. After seeing him for the first time last preseason, my only comment was “Robert Horry” (and yes, the best draft in Bobcats history netted “a poor man’s Kobe” and the next Robert Horry).
Derrick Brown absolutely dominated The Summer League (15ppg/7rpg/52%FGP) and has been one of the team’s most consistent players through three preseason games. His biggest issue going forward is playing time. The Bobcats best player (Gerald Wallace) plays the same position as Brown and the other forward spot is currently filled by Diaw and Thomas.
Brown’s season likely goes in one of two directions:
1.) Bobcats trade Diaw in a deal for a point guard, opening up a spot for Brown as the third forward in the rotation.
2.) Bobcats include Brown in a trade for a PG or Center — allowing the best value pick in Bobcats history to succeed on another team.
Either way, look for Derrick Brown to have a big year and a nice career going forward.