In a season filled with many losses, it can be difficult to figure out which players are key to a team and which players need to go. Sometimes, players we think need to stay actually need to take a hike and players we don't feel are useful are actually incredibly important. It is time to take a look at Gerald Henderson and decide just how useful to the Bobcats he is.
Henderson had what I would call a solid season. He had a PER of 16, which is just above league average, and a True Shooting Percentage of 53% which is, again, around league average. However, I think this number doesn't accurately reflect his season because of an early-season injury and gradual improvement as the season wore on.
According to NBA.com/stats, Gerald Henderson had a TS% of 50% in January. This number increased to 54% in February and 57% in March -- which I think most of us can agree is when he was playing his best basketball. With these numbers, it's clear that Henderson got better offensively over the course of the season.
In what offensive sets however is Henderson most effective on offense? Probably when Henderson is running the pick and roll as a ball handler and scoring off of cuts. According to MySynergySports.com, Henderson scores 1 point per possession (PPP) as a ball handler in the pick and roll and 1.11 PPP off of cuts. He uses his speed to get around screens quickly and when delivered the ball, wastes no time finding a good shot. He doesn't stop the ball. He doesn't square up his defender and isolate. He immediately goes to the basket or fires up a jump shot.
On defense, though, it's really tough to describe Henderson's ability. He's a very solid defender, but he helps too much. I think a lot of his defensive issues are team oriented, so I'm not going to criticize his defensive shortcomings too much.
Defensive stats are very limited, but according to MySynergySports.com, Henderson is very good at defending players attacking off of screens, only allowing 0.76 PPP. The reason Henderson is able to defend screens so well is, once again, because of his speed. Henderson is very good at using that speed to recover quickly, meaning the shooter has to shoot fast to get a clean shot. Because that space won't be there for long.
Biggest improvement this season
If we look at Henderson's advanced and per 36 stats we can see that he went from 51% TS% in 2012 to 53% in 2013. Last season, Henderson attempted 14 shots per 36 minutes and made six of those shots. This season, he did the same thing. Henderson also improved getting to the line, going from 204 free throws attempted in 2012 to 313 attempted in 2013. Henderson's FT% went up from 76% last season to 82% this season. What does all this mean? Well, look at this shot chart.
The shot chart shows that Henderson took a huge majority of his shots at the rim. The rise in TS% and FT% shows that Henderson attacked the rim, got to the line, and made more of his free throws than in previous years.
Henderson's play of the season
This one is pretty easy.
GERALD HENDERSON SMASH!!!!!
What to work on
I think Henderson's 3-point shooting could use some improvement. This season, Henderson only shot 33% from 3 point land. While that's an improvement from over year, it could still be improved a little more. I'm not asking Henderson to become a 42% 3-point shooter, but shooting 36% from deep would make him a player you can't ignore from behind the arc. That should keep defenses a little more honest with him.
Grade and future
I give Henderson a B- for the season. There's still a lot about his game he can work on and improve (3-point shooting, not over-helping on defense) but he was such a key player for the Bobcats this season, especially down the stretch. Henderson attacking the basket more this season and getting to the free-throw line more shows that he understands how to be efficient. We don't know what his ceiling is, but I can definitely see Henderson being one of the top guards in the league if he continues to improve.
Here's the problem: Henderson is going to be a restricted free agent this summer. At the trade deadline, the Bobcats were trying to trade Henderson's expiring contract for a first round draft pick. I'm not sure if the Bobcats were trying to get value out of a player they thought they couldn't retain, or if it was just a simple test to assess his value.
I think the Bobcats would be crazy to not re-sign him. The only way I see Henderson not here for another three years (minimum), is if another team offers a huge amount of money the Bobcats don't want to match.
(art by RoF's own Joshua Priemski)