The Bobcats have two shooting guards, and in a brief witticism, they could have been described as "one that can't shoot and one that can't guard."
Though funny and wholly incorrect (trust me: Gerald Henderson can indeed shoot the basketball and Matt Carroll is not an inept defender), it does indeed sum up each player's weakest points in their skill sets.
Last we checked in with the two in early April, Gerald Henderson was coming into his own as the Bobcats' starting shooting guard after the Gerald Wallace trade freed the position for the 12th pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Meanwhile, Matt Carroll was the professional he's always been, filling in inconsistent minutes,as he occasionally effectively tickled the twine as the team's main long bomb-launcher with Stephen Jackson sidelined with injuries.
And as Paul Silas enters his first full (well, not really) season with the Bobcats, these two men will continue to find themselves in a moment of transition.
For Gerald Henderson, Jr., he enters his first season as a starter for an NBA team. With only a battered Corey Maggette to lead the team's scoring, Henderson must up his game to fill the void. It's a tall task for any young guard to to fill, especially those more defensive-minded like Henderson.
We know he can finish well at the rim (64.6%), with exceptional athleticism and body control in the air, but questions abound remain concerning his shooting and other offensive versatility. Much has been made of his midrange jumper off a screen and hook, which is pretty solid. However, the rest of it just hasn't been evident. We saw glimpses where he experimented in the post, with mixed results. He just doesn't have the polish to be reliable in that fashion. He doesn't have that go-to move. He doesn't have the handles to create space in the midrange. Most glaringly, Henderson's range has been under scrutiny. Last year he shot an eye-popping 19.4% from beyond the arc. Oof.
But that's last year.
As concerning as it could be that Henderson underwent surgery during the offseason to fix a torn labrum, it was a congenital condition that in turn made him more prone to knee injury. Fixing it had to be done and should prevent further issues. And based on recent video, it looks like he's as mobile and explosive as we remembered.
We've also seen that he has been working this offseason on his go-to moves (spin moves and step-back jumpers) and his range. Through adjusting his form and repetition (as our own Josh Priemski analyzed), it seems like his main issues on his jump shot have been, in the least, nudged in the right direction. He won't turn around and become Ray Allen, but through more repetition and time working with a trainer on ensuring the corrections in his shot stick, he could build up more effective range.
His go-to moves in the post are still rusty and slow, but at least he's working on them. He's no dummy; I expect him to work on them and learn from his endeavors and adjust accordingly. And he's still the talented defender that he is, hanging onto opponents with great footwork and defensive attentiveness to force them into tough shots.
As for Carroll, he continues his transition back into the old him.
Once a young gunner, Carroll changed his game to become more of a slasher and rim-attacker on offense to fit in Larry Brown's offensive system. His role diminished and less effective, Carroll now emerges as the team's backup shooting guard under Paul Silas' run-and-gun offensive philosophical intentions.
He's not a spring chicken anymore, but Carroll's release is still quick and high and he, himself, is still quick. He's never been extremely athletic, at least vertically, and that may yet be diminished due to age. However, it shouldn't be noticeable, especially after the lengthy rest the lockout can provide.
All that said, Matt Carroll is simply a specialist -- and a poor man's one at that. He's not a great defender and he can't play inside due to athleticism. This isn't a bad thing. His contract is, though. It's well more than a player of his talent is worth.
Carroll's role on this team will fluctuate on any given night, depending on the Bobcats' need for points. With Reggie Williams out for a while, expect him to see many of those minutes.