When the Lance Stephenson signing was announced nearly everyone who had anything to do with the Charlotte Hornets organization was excited. The team had a new star at a position many viewed as a weakness, and were considered the hot new team on the rise thanks to the addition of Stephenson. One person who might not have been so thrilled is former starting shooting guard Gerald Henderson. Henderson started all 77 games he played in last season, and now will have to adjust to a reduced role, coming off of the bench. Will Henderson be able to set aside his pride and embrace his new role as sixth man?
Henderson has been a reliable but polarizing player for Charlotte over his five year career. He saw his best season in 2012-2013 when he averaged 15.5 points and 3.7 rebounds, on 44.7 percent shooting. Last season his production dipped a bit to 15.1 points on 43.3 percent from the field. Henderson has a limited offensive skill-set, but he is very athletic and can finish when he gets to the rim. He also plays above average defense and seems to be a positive presence in the locker room. However, he is a career 30 percent shooter from three point range, and his reliance on mid-range jump-shots causes some fans to pull their hair out. His questionable shot selection and lack of a three point prowess hindered the Hornets offense at times last season. Henderson is a nice player, but the fact of the matter is you cannot have two wing players in your starting five that are weak outside shooters. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist starting alongside Henderson made for a solid defensive wing pairing, but those offensive limitations needed to be addressed if the Hornets were going to continue rising up the Eastern Conference standings.
While Henderson was not what the Hornets needed in the starting lineup, his movement to the bench does make the bench unit much better. He brings experience and leadership to a bench that at times looked lost last season. On paper, this seems like it should be a good transition, but Henderson is a human being and sometimes we do not handle change very well. This might be a difficult transition for him at first. Some nights he may get big minutes if Lance or MKG are in foul trouble. Some nights he may even play in crunch time if Steve Clifford thinks he is playing well. However, there are going to be those games where Henderson is relegated to the second unit while Lance Stephenson and MKG get the bulk of the minutes and play down the stretch. It will be an adjustment, and something he will have to get used to.
Gerald Henderson is a professional, and I am confident eventually he will thrive in this new role. If he plays well in this role, he may get the opportunity to start elsewhere when his contract in Charlotte expires. He will embrace the change and continue to be a good teammate while bringing defense and athleticism to the new-look Hornets bench. What do you think? Will Henderson find success as the sixth man or struggle in his new position? Let us know in the comments!