With numerous changes to the roster and coaching staff, Gerald Henderson is entering his fourth straight season with the team, which also happens to be a contract year for the former Dukie. While Henderson hasn’t overwhelmingly played to the standards of a lottery talent, he has managed to show improvement each season, which is impressive considering two coaching changes in three seasons and the surplus of losses last season.
Offensively, Henderson has a limited arsenal, but has proven to most effective with his mid-range game. According to HoopData, Henderson shot 45% from 10-15 feet last season, after shooting 38% the season before. This was a big reason why he was able to make a jump in scoring while taking more shots than he ever has per game. Henderson gets to the line a respectable amount for a player of his caliber, averaging about four FTA per 36, but he’s making them at just a 76% clip. I’d like to see Henderson get into the 80’s with his FT percentage. In the final month of last season he was at 83.5% in 17 games. Along with his free throws, the hope is also that Henderson can extend his range to the three-point line to give the team much needed spacing.
Defensively is where Henderson’s value really comes to light. His athleticism, strength, solid lateral quickness, length, and ability to guard two to three positions on the floor is very useful. He was always known for having good, all-around defensive fundamentals and that’s been the case as a Bobcat. Henderson doesn’t get much credit for how good he is defensively because of how bad the Bobcats have been on that side of the ball, but he could see some credit for it depending on the improvements Coach Dunlap is able to make. Having Henderson and Kidd-Gilchrist on the perimeter could be a very formidable defensive tandem on the perimeter.
There’s a bunch of good things to like about Henderson, but at the same time you’d like to have a more proven scorer at shooting guard, playing the bulk of minutes. This is where Ben Gordon could come into play this season. Depending on Gordon’s shooting and scoring ability, Henderson could actually see a drop in minutes. Don’t forget about Reggie Williams, who was a dependable bench scorer in Golden State, but had a hard time translating that last season. If Williams can recover his production from his Warriors tenure, he’d also be able to steal minutes. I’d also give an outside chance to second-round pick Jeffery Taylor, who is bigger, has the same ability to defend multiple positions, is just as athletic and has a better three-point shot. Matt Carroll played limited minutes at SG last season as well, but hopefully he’s not on the floor much, if at all this year.
So does the team trade or extend Hendo? There’s no lock he’ll play the career high in minutes he did last season going forward, and that will be a big factor going into discussions for his next contract. There’s certainly potential for depth at SG to move on from Henderson. Considering his age, athleticism, defensive versatility and improvement by season, Henderson has a valid case for a contract worth the Mid-Level Exception. A deal similar to the four-year, $21.3 million deal Courtney Lee signed this summer with Boston is a good comparison. If you don’t agree with extending Hendo, what’s his worth on the trade market? Could the Bobcats pair Henderson’s generous $3.1 million salary this season with an expiring contract like DeSagana Diop’s to take a long-term deal off a team’s hands? There’s a lot to weigh, but Henderson’s going to have to take another jump before the Bobcats pick a lane.
Regardless Henderson is a useful asset to the Bobcats, and other teams, which is clearly a good thing for this rebuilding project.
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