Well, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen me cheerleading since the end of the season (possibly earlier than that) that we needed to get Gerald Henderson a multi-year contract. The 2013-2014 season, in theory, he can just play out the qualifying offer portion of his contract, and he would become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Next summer is a Free Agent class that will be one of the more star studded years that there has been in quite a while. There are also lots of HOT prospects that are slated to come out in the Draft next year. Being a Gerald Henderson fan, I have to step out of my skin to see if the reason I want to give him a multi-year deal is just because I’ve grown used to him being on the team, or if he would actually be a great fit to keep on the team. Maybe he’s worth a deal…or maybe he’s not…read on
So my first step in analyzing whether I’m just a silly, irrational fan was to look at Hendo’s numbers. Do they point to a guy who has peaked out and isn’t a good fit? Well, his first season in Charlotte, He only saw the court for about half of the games and really didn’t get a chance to do anything. To keep numbers simple, he put up averages of 2.6 points, shot 35.6%, 21.1% from 3-pt land, and the rest of the numbers are so negligible, I’m not even going to mention them. He was averaging 8.3 minutes per game, so not a whole lot to expect from his rookie year.
Year 2 got him into 68 games, and he actually started 30 of them. Did the numbers improve? 9.6 points, shot 45.4%, shot 19.4% from 3-pt land, averaged 3 rebounds per game, dished out 1.5 assists per game, and this came from him playing around 24 minutes per game. The numbers definitely look better…except for the 3-pt%. Henderson knew this and he worked on it over the summer. He’s more of a mid-range guy, but in the NBA, you must be proficient form 3-pt land.
Year 3 arrives and we are in a lockout shortened season. The Bobcats finished the season with the worst win % ever for an NBA team. How was Hendo? In playing an average of 33 minutes per game and starting all 55 games, he averaged 15.1 points, 45.9% FG %, 23.4% from 3-pt land, averaged 4.1 rebounds per game, and dished out 2.3 assists per game. He improved while the team went through a season with virtually no strong players whatsoever.
Year 4 brought Hendo a chance to show what he was worth. Could he perform and continue to improve? Specifically he needed improvement again on his 3-pt %. In the 68 games he played, he stared 58 of them. He averaged, 15.5 points, 44.7% FG%, 33% from 3-pt land, averaged 3.7 rebounds, and dished 2.6 assists.
Keep in mind that over these 4 years, we have rotated through a different coach every year and seldom did any core players ever remain on the team. Year 3 with the addition of Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo was the start if Henderson’s improvement as a player. The pressure was removed from him to a certain extent for him needing to be “THE GUY” to carry the team. Year 4 added Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor, further easing the pressure and giving the team pieces to the puzzle to become an actual TEAM. Now you have to look at the upcoming season. We drafted Cody Zeller and we actually took a big step in the free agent market in signing Al Jefferson. Big Al could possibly be the best big man the team has ever seen in its history. Big Al will demand a double team. Double teams in the NBA means that someone usually has an open shot available. In the past, the Bobcats could be easily contained by playing a zone defense. They would just stay in the zone until a jumper was forced or, in Rick Bonnell’s words, “Shot Clock”. Now, Henderson has the opportunity to play with a team. It’s a real team with strong players in every position. Cody Zeller is looking great in summer league, which means our front court of Gillie the Kidd, Zeller, and Big Al is, hands down, the best front court the team has ever had. This should open up the backcourt to do so many things that it has never had the chance to do. We have a chance to play some really entertaining basketball and win a good bit of games.
The problem is we need to lock down a shooting guard. By numbers, Henderson looks very serviceable. He works on his game and he’s going to have the opportunity to become the 20+ points per night guy that the team needs. OJ Mayo and Monta Ellis were given contracts that reflect a market value of $8 million per season. Is Henderson worth that? Is he in the same class as those 2? Have those guys been on teams in as bad of shape as the Bobcats have been?
Let’s look at last season:
15.5 points per game, FG% at 44.7, 3-pt % at 33, 3.7 rebounds per game, 2.6 assists per game, 1 steal per game
15.3 points per game, FG% at 44.9, 3-pt % at 40.7, 3.5 rebounds per game, 4.4 assists per game, & 1. 1 steals per game
19.2 points per game, FG% at 41.6, 3-pt % at 28.7, 3.9 rebounds per game, 6.0 assists per game, & 2.1 steals per game
You’re looking at Gerald Henderson, OJ Mayo, and Monta Ellis. Henderson’s been in the league for 4 years, Mayo has been in the league for 5 years, and Ellis has been in the league for 8 years. Of the 3, Henderson is the only one that has been on a team in rebuild mode for the past 2 years and not had much to work with.
So in looking at the numbers and the possibilities, is Gerald Henderson worth $8 million per season? You be the judge. I still say he is. Looking at the 2014 free agent shooting guards, unless we’re making a run for Kobe or Dwayne Wade, I’d spend this summer on Hendo and be set for the next 3-4 years. If we don’t Hendo and Gordon are gone next summer and we have to depend on Jeff Taylor to carry us at that spot. I don’t think he’d have a problem, but I want to have some depth so we don’t have to overspend next year.
Think about it.