Gerald Henderson – The Free Agent

Standard

Gerald Henderson Illustration by Mike S

With the NBA draft just around the corner, this becomes the most important part of the year for the Bobcats. They have yet another top-five selection—the fifth in their ten-year history—and some key free agent decisions. Most notably former lottery pick Gerald Henderson.

It’s impossible to deny that Henderson has been one of the most successful Bobcats draft picks to date. Which is to say, he’s not a total, unparalleled failure.

Henderson came into the league as an elite athlete known for his defensive acumen. That much hasn’t changed in his four years in the Association, but since he’s been given solid playing time (a.k.a. when Larry Brown left), he’s scored at a very respectable clip, too. He hasn’t put up quite the scoring numbers Kemba Walker has (13.6 PPG vs. 15.2 PPG), but he closes that margin on a per-36 minute basis (16.0 vs. 17.4). Hendo’s been particularly good in catch-and-shoot plays coming off screens—he was sixth in mid-range shooting among shooting guards last year at 43.4%.

But even though he’ll never be a 20 PPG scorer, and his numbers are surely inflated since Kemba Walker is the only other semi-reliable scorer on the team, he’s shown steady improvement each year in the league. From his freshman to his junior year at Duke, he improved his shooting line from .451/.320/.627 to .450/.336/.761, and he showed an even bigger improvement in his first four years in the pros (.356/.211/.745 to .447/.330/.824).

For how little love Henderson gets, he puts up top-15 numbers among shooting guards across the board, making him an above-average starter. 10th in PER (16.48). 11th in scoring (15.5 PPG). 7th in field goal percentage (.447). 14th in free throw percentage (.824). 10th in offensive rebounding (0.8 ORPG). 12th in blocks (0.50 BPG). He doesn’t have a marquee name, and he isn’t (yet) an elite long-range shooter, but you sure could do worse at the 2-guard.

Now, Henderson is a restricted free agent, and the upcoming NBA draft features two young shooting guards who may be available for Charlotte: Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore. One who is very similar to Henderson and one who is completely different.

Oladipo Comparison

First let’s take a look at Oladipo, who has a shockingly similar profile to Henderson.

Both are undersized but long juniors from major programs (6’5” 215 with a 6’10.5” wingspan and 8’6.5” standing reach for Henderson and 6’4” 213 with a 6’9” wingspan and 8’4.5” standing reach for Oladipo). Even Chad Ford’s pre-draft notes on them are eerily similar:


Henderson


  • Versatile 2-guard, does almost everything well
  • Plays the game very smoothly
  • He’s a great athlete, has NBA strength
  • Has a very consistent midrange jump shot
  • Is quick enough to take his man off the dribble
  • Strong enough to post up guys
  • Excellent rebounder for a guard
  • Good basketball IQ
  • Excellent perimeter defender
  • Needs to increase his range
  • Still not a consistent 3-point threat
  • A bit undersized for his position
  • Very inconsistent in his 2 years at Duke

Oladipo


  • Crazy athletic swingman
  • Explosive leaper
  • Tough, physical player
  • Excellent rebounder
  • Tenacious defender
  • Best motor in college basketball
  • Improving jump shot
  • A bit undersized for his position
  • Can be turnover prone

 

 

That’s two different ways of describing the same player. Why draft someone who resembles Gerald Henderson when you could have the actual Gerald Henderson and another player?

There are obviously some differences between them that favor Oladipo (42” vs. 35” vertical and .441 vs. .336 junior year 3-point percentage, although their .338 and .329 3-point percentage throughout college makes it closer). But drafting the Hoosier just seems redundant when there are other players on the board.

The good news (?), though, is that Oladipo probably won’t be on the board when the Bobcats select fourth; Orlando reportedly has an eye on him with the second pick.

McLemore Comparison

Ben McLemore, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. His game is based on shooting instead of defensive intensity, something the Bobcats have been searching for ever since they traded Jason Richardson.

McLemore’s redshirt freshman year was a mixed bag, since he shot 42% from beyond the arc and nearly joined the 50-40-90 club (.495/.420/.870) but also faded in the NCAA tournament and deferred to Elijah Johnson all year. He even had 11 20-point games, although he also had 12 games with 11 or less, including a 2-point performance in the Round of 32 against North Carolina.

McLemore has the raw tools to be an All-Star and a solid defender, but he hasn’t shown the killer instinct of a superstar. Say what you want about intangibles, but McLemore does have one skill the Bobcats desperately need: shooting.

In a vacuum, I like McLemore. But the cost of drafting McLemore isn’t just “missing out” on Anthony Bennett or Alex Len, it’s losing Gerald Henderson, too. Charlotte wouldn’t bring back Henderson after drafting McLemore because there simply aren’t enough minutes for the development of Walker, Ramon Sessions, McLemore, Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeff Taylor. McLemore will probably be a good player, but will he be better than whomever else the Bobcats would draft and Henderson? I’m guessing that’s a no.

Gerald Henderson will never be Kobe Bryant, but the Bobcats, according to the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell, understand his value. Three-and-D wings are becoming very important—look at Danny Green in these Finals—and Charlotte understands GH’s value more than any other team.

Interestingly enough, Kemba’s scoring (18.3 vs. 17.8), shooting (43% vs. 41%), three-point shooting (37% vs. 32%), assists (6.0 vs. 5.7), and rebounding (3.7 vs. 3.4) all tick up when Henderson is on the floor.

Gerald’s Price

Henderson won’t cost as much as DeMar DeRozan’s leviathan 4-year $40 million deal—the Raptor was drafted three picks before Henderson in ‘09—he’ll be more in the $5-6 million range, a bit above his $4.3 million qualifying offer. The Bobcats have the right to match any offer another team gives, but it’s hard to imagine him getting an offer much higher than the mid-level exception. The market will likely dictate a four-year pact for about $22 million, although he’s probably worth even more than that.

If the choice comes down to a rookie shooting guard (McLemore) or Henderson and a rookie big man (Bennett, Len, or even Noel), I’m taking the latter every time.

And if that doesn’t convince you, Henderson has my favorite nickname in the NBA: The OG (The Other Gerald). That has to count for something, right?

- Ben

Bobcats Defeat Raptors On Jordan’s Night

Standard

Nazr Mohammed via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images

The Bobcats keep hope alive with a 97-91 win over the visiting Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  Nazr Mohammed led the way with 18 points and 8 boards, while Tyrus Thomas returned to the lineup with 14 and 7 off the bench.

AP Recap |  Box Score

The first half was ugly.  In front of tons of empty seats, the Raptors went on a 20-2 run to take a 12 point lead in the first quarter.  Stephen Jackson was in foul trouble early and couldn’t get anything going as the Raptors took a 6 point lead into halftime.  The vibe in the arena was very negative; there was even some faint booing directed at the home team at a couple of points.

Halftime brought a ceremony inducting Michael Jordan into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  It began with a quick and dirty, but nicely done Jordan highlight video (NCAA championship game winner, “look at that!” dunk, free-throw dunk from NBA dunk contest, game winner on Ehlo, switch-hands layup against Lakers, game winner against Jazz, etc. — the big stuff) that ended with Jordan taking ownership of the Bobcats.  Jordan came out to mid-court accompanied by Dean Smith, accepted his ring and plaque, and gave brief, gracious speech — no piss and vinegar like from the Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech.

At that point, most of the Bobcats had made their way back onto the corner of the court to watch.  Jordan shook hands with some of the other members of the Hall and spent another few moments with Dean Smith.

Jordan and Dean Smith via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images

The crowd lapped it up and rightfully so.  It was a good ceremony.  More importantly, and maybe I’m naive for thinking this, but the Bobcats lapped it up, too.  OK, maybe “lapped it up” is too strong; they came out in the second half with a better effort, and I can’t help but think the positive atmosphere created by Jordan’s ceremony helped with that.

The Bobcats quickly evened things up in the third quarter, traded leads early in the fourth, and pulled away late as the Raptors self-destructed with backup guard Jerryd Bayless trying to run the show.

Jackson never did get it going (7 points, 3-8 FG), garnering a tech and eventually fouling out in the fourth. Gerald Wallace tallied 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 mildly tweaked ankle (left).  Matt Carroll played crunchtime and had a really nice assist to Boris with under a minute left to help the Cats pull away.

Observations

  • So I missed the DeRozan dunk live.  I was looking down at my phone — damn Twitter.  I looked up in time to see the backboard shaking and the Raptors bench freaking the hell out.  Rightfully so, now that I’ve seen the highlight.
  • There should be a name for the phenomenon where a traditional center starts, plays significant portions of the first and third quarters, is quietly effective, but then sits the fourth quarter as both teams go small and athletic.  Can we name it the Nazr Paradox?
  • So the Bobcats are at 9-15, a game-and-a-half out of the 8th playoff spot.  Barring a shakeup or a miracle, it’s pretty clear that this is where this team will hang out most of the season.  Every marginal victory like tonight strings us along, hoping for a spark, a 4 game win streak to get back in the thick of things.
  • The Bobcats will be on the road in Memphis for a back-to-back tomorrow night, 8 PM ET start.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardbard Gerald on Twitter

All-Star Saturday Wrap-Up

Standard
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Slam Dunk Contest

Along with former Bobcats Shannon Brown, Gerald Wallace was eliminated in the first round of the least memorable Slam Dunk Contest in years on Saturday night.  After a missed attempt, Gerald threw down a two-handed, double-pump reverse jam for his first dunk, garnering a 38 from the judges.  On his Flip Murray-assisted second dunk, Gerald again missed his first attempt.  On a second try, Gerald took a bounce pass from Flip while flying from right to left underneath the basket, eventually throwing it down one-handed.  That one got a 40 and ended Gerald’s night.  Oh well, here’s a nice profile on Gerald from the Observer’s Scott Fowler anyways.

Nate Robinson and DeMar DeRozan went on to the finals, where Nate finally finished off the yawnfest with a “pretty great for a little guy” reverse jam after a toss off the backboard.  Good for Nate, as it’s a record-setting third Slam Dunk Championship for him; but unfortunately Charles Barkley stole the show with his sarcastic “maybe no one will win” comment while they were waiting for the internet votes to be tabulated.  Good luck to the league as they will undoubtedly be looking into ways to spice up the Dunk Contest next year (if they don’t kill it off altogether).

.

Taking Care of Business

Two interesting stories that concern the Bobcats emerged from David Stern’s media availability.  First and foremost, Stern confirmed that the Bobcats sale will most likely go through within the next sixty days.  It’s been reported in the past that former Houston Rockets president George Postolos is leading a group that has made a respectable offer; it’s also known that current minority owner Michael Jordan has some kind of right to match any offer.  What isn’t known at this point is whether or not Jordan is rounding up the partners to match said offer.  He probably is — at the craps table at Atlantis.

The other interesting story is the ongoing quest by the NBA and the Players Union to come up with another Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Stern projects almost $400 million in losses league-wide this year, which does not bode well for the players as the current CBA has less than a year to go.  One thing that would help the Bobcats (and other small-market teams) in the new CBA would be some kind of revenue-sharing agreement, and both Stern and players’ rep Billy Hunter have mentioned strengthened revenue-sharing as a likely component of the next CBA.  Donald Sterling cannot be pleased.

Trade Rumors

The Wizards have finally begun their demolition, dealing Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Dallas for Josh Howard + flotsam + jetsam.  This should start to loosen everyone else up, and things will likely be fast and furious on the transaction front between now and Thursday’s trade deadline.  The next piece to fall into place may be Amare Stoudemire to the Cavs.

The Bobcats are almost certainly still on the lookout for a power forward, with DJ being the likely bait.  I haven’t seen any new published rumors, except for the tidbit that the Cats rejected the Wizards offer of Andray Blatche for DJ.  Easy call, we’re looking for someone that will help us in the playoffs this year, not a young guy who still has a ways to go.

All-Star Game

The big game is at 7PM ET on TNT, live from Cowboys Stadium.  I’ll be tweeting as Gerald Wallace will become the first Bobcat to play in an All-Star game, and we’ll be back with some postgame thoughts either later tonight or tomorrow morning.  Happy Valentine’s Day, Baseliners.

-Dr. E