TSP Andrew: Guess what Trade Street Post fans…we have ourselves another new writer. As the Bobcats become the Hornets, and business picks up down on Trade Street, we are going to take all the help we can get in providing excellent coverage of our Beloved Bobcats. I can still call them Bobcats for now, but with every passing day, the buzz will envelope the area until the full return of the Hornets is upon us again. Until that day is here, let’s give these 2013-2014 Bobcats our full and undying support. Our newest writer is taking the lead on that by sharing an in depth look at Gerald Henderson and his return to the team for what looks to be an incredible season. Everyone, please give Josh Haar a warm welcome, and enjoy this piece.
Although it turned out to be a more dragged out process than originally expected, the Charlotte Bobcats successfully completed one of their primary objectives this summer by retaining 25 year old shooting guard Gerald Henderson with a 3 year, $18 million contract extension. This deal turned out to be extremely beneficial for both parties involved: Charlotte re-signed one of the best young two guards in the league for less than his projected cap hold, and Henderson obtained a player option in the third year of this fresh contract.
Ever since the Bobcats drafted him 12th overall in 2009, Henderson has consistently improved every single year he's been in the league. A look at his rookie season statistics compared to his production in 2012/13 perfectly displays how far he has come along:
2009/10: 2.6 PTS, 1.3 REBS, 0.3 ASTS, 0.2 STLS, 35.6% shooting from the field, 21.1% shooting from three.
2012/13: 15.5 PTS, 3.7 REBS, 2.6 ASTS, 1.0 STLS, 44.7% shooting from the field, 33.0% shooting from three.
In his 5th NBA campaign, expect Henderson to play an important role in the Bobcat's on-court success. During the course of his two most recent seasons in the association, the 6'5 athlete proved to possess the ability to efficiently score the basketball. Athletic, strong, and talented, the Duke product is capable of aggressively attacking/finishing at the basket (52.84% around the rim in 2012/13), pulling up and knocking down shots from mid-range (43.70% from this area in 2012/13), and stroking the three-ball every now and then (33.0% in 2013/13). As the player most likely to start at shooting guard on this youthful Bobcats' roster, Henderson's main job next season will undoubtedly be to serve as the leading perimeter scorer.
Now, in order to do this effectively, the 25 year old must improve two aspects of his game: he must 1) raise his shooting percentage from beyond the arc as well as 2) work on his in-game shot selection.
In 2012/13, Gerald made huge strides in his accuracy from distance, as his 33.0% clip was considerably better than the atrocious 21.3% he put forth during his first 3 years in the league. However, if the guard wants to truly be considered a respectable threat from deep, he needs to up his hit clip to at least 36 percent. Assuming his steady developmental process continues, it is very reasonable to imagine Henderson reaching this type of consistency from outside in 2013/14. The sooner he approaches the 40 percent mark the sooner he becomes enough of a threat that he will draw defenses out of the paint and give our young front line some room to work down low.
As far as the two guard's decision-making is concerned, his biggest issue is his tendency for settling far too often for jump shots. Henderson's greatest scoring strength lies in his ability to drive the lane, and while he obviously cannot force the issue, it is in the baller's best interest to make searching for openings to the hoop an offensive priority.
If Henderson can ameliorate these aspects of his game, they will largely benefit his overall talent for putting the ball in the basket. Take a gander at how these two areas complement each other perfectly:
- If the two-guard starts games off by successfully drawing fouls or scoring in the paint, the opposing defender will ultimately have to back off.
- Now that he's been given room to shoot, Henderson can make his opponent pay by hitting open looks from the outside.
- The defender eventually has to respect Gerald as a long-range threat and apply defensive pressure. As a result, Henderson can drive around his man and continue hurting the opposition on the inside.
The bottom-line is this: if the shooting guard becomes a legitimate threat from deep and consistently seeks for opportunities to finish plays at the rim, he will become an extremely difficult scorer to defend. Players who boast this type of offensive versatility tend to average at least 18 points per game. Considering Henderson's continuous growth as an NBA athlete, it is very easy to envision the former Blue Devil producing at a similar level in 2013/14.
Through his first 4 years in the NBA, it has become very clear Gerald Henderson is capable of performing as one of Charlotte's primary scoring options. He holds the tools necessary to succeed in this position. All he has to do now is utilize everything his toolbox has to offer and go to work. Look for him to assume a greater leadership role both on and off the court as he settles into his new position as a veteran presence with the team.