Monday, May 18, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Gerald Henderson, Duke

Stats: 16.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.2 t/o's, 45% FG, 33.6% 3PT, 76.1% FT

Listed Size: 6'5", 215 lb, 12/9/87 (21 years old)

(photo credit:

About Him: Gerald Henderson really came around during his junior year, becoming the Blue Devils go-to guy and basically carrying the Dukies during a month long stretch in the middle of the season. During his first two seasons, he was not much more than an athlete as he had a tendency to be much too passive on the offensive end. This past season he seemed much more confident, however, and thus became more aggressive, showing off what he can do offensively.

Henderson is far from a finished product on the offensive end, however. He is an above average shooter in the mid range, but was terribly inconsistent from beyond the arc this year (he started 24-51, but finished the year at 34%). G's ball-handling ability also has a great deal of room for improvement. He had a bit of difficulty bring the ball up against pressure this year, which isn't a huge concern as he will be playing off the ball in the league. The bigger issue is that Henderson does not change directions well when attacking the rim - he had a tendency to rely on his quick first step and outstanding leaping ability to get by defenders, as opposed to any kind of advanced dribble move.

But it just so happens that attacking the rim was the best part of G's game. Whether it was off of a curl, a flex cut, a lob, or his own penetration, Henderson showed a phenomenal ability to get to the rim and finish with authority (Blake Griffin may be the only guy that dunked on more people this year than Henderson). He is fearless attacking the basket, and will only become better as he continues to put on muscle. Like most players at this level, he is better going to his right (his strong hand).

As a decision maker, Henderson was pretty good this year. He didn't have too many instances where he over-penetrated or threw the ball away (2.2 t/o's). While he did force some shots (especially from the perimeter), I get the feeling that a lot of it was a result of Coach K being in his ear, telling him he needed to be a leader.

The biggest reason that he is a projected lottery pick is that he is an elite caliber athlete, even by NBA standards. He puts that athleticism to work, especially on the defensive end, where he is versatile enough to defend multiple positions. He projects as an excellent defender at the NBA level, and it is more than just playing for Coach K for three years (meaning you know he will be fundamentally sound). G has proven time and again that he is not afraid to stand in and take a charge or to challenge a center at the rim. He has a feel for the game defensively that you can't teach, a knack for making big plays, and a bit of a mean streak in him as well (ask Tyler Hansbrough's nose about it).

Comparisons: Best Case - Michael Finley, shorter Richard Jefferson; Worst Case: Shannon Brown, Dahntay Jones.

Bottom Line: Henderson will be able to contribute almost immediately to any team that selects him simply because of his outstanding athleticism. He is a hard-worker on the defensive end that is fearless in the air, whether he is trying to block a shot at the rim or finish a drive with a dunk. If his all-around offensive game comes around, he could end up being an all-star one day. If not, he should still be able to hang around the league for 10-12 years. Right now, he is probably looking at going somewhere towards the back end of lottery.


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