Xavier Henry: Position: SF Height: 6’6” Weight: 220 Age: 22 Contract: $884,293 (’13-14) Nickname: N/A Years With Team: 0 Years With League: 3 Previous Teams: Memphis, New Orleans Acquired: Free Agent '13
Xavier's game has been amplified under D'Antoni's offense in the fifteen game early returns. His scoring rate has improved due to an increase in usage, as opposed to actually improving on efficiency. D'Antoni has played him at both wing positions: while he's far better at drawing fouls playing small forward, he's far more efficient as a scorer playing two-guard, and shooting guard appears to agree more with him.
In terms of personal offense, Xavier, as usual, is ALWAYS looking to get to the rim. And he can get there: he has a decent crossover, an eager first step and subsequent Eurostep, hesitation moves, and a sheer nose to attack. He leverages contact extremely well to draw a ton of fouls, and sadly, is one of the Lakers' only primary source for free throws. He also goes after offensive boards. This has a lot of limitations on a ton of fronts however: Xavier is still sorely lacking in secondary attributes on offense, being a head-down scorer with a very low assist rate and high turnover rate, and he's prone to getting offensive fouls because defenders sit on his slashes knowing that he is only looking to score. He's also a decidedly average athlete in slashing--he's more herky jerky than he is athletic, and as a singular minded slasher he is prone to throwing up junk against a full fleet of defensive trees. Finally, he has no runner game, so he cannot stop short of the trees to launch off a shot that is hard to block. He has never been even an average finisher in his career despite his desire to do so, and this season the efficiency is even worse, with awful early returns of 38.9% at the rim. Also, when he draws fouls, he has changing mechanics and tends to short-rim many of his free throws, only hitting 57% early this season, amplified by his many attempts. Overall, his ability to get to the rim is just better than his actual finishing--or, the concept is far better than the execution. And it is execution that matters.
There have been some inroads--Xavier, who shot 42% from triples in Kansas, has finally re-shown some of his range from deep: while the attempts are still limited in the grand scheme, for him, it is far more than what he's taken in his past three seasons, and he is hitting 44.4% currently, particularly scorching from both wings. While there are sample size and career average (34.7%) limitations to get too comfortable with this, for him, this is a step in the right direction. He also likes mid-range shots from the right wing where he has been decent in conversion.
Defensively, Henry surprisingly actually has been pretty good this season, in guarding both wing positions but also in team rotations. He's getting a few more steals in the early run, although his defensive playmaking is never anything to write home about. Just like on offense, defensively Henry's better as a shooting guard, where he fouls less and actually has an advantage in rebounding against his counterpart. Against small forwards, he fouls more and gets out-rebounded, even if he actually defends their shots better. Still, Henry's defensive rebounding has fallen off compared to the past two seasons, likely because he's playing small forward far more. Considering Henry was perceived as a hustle player camouflaging poor defense in past seasons, playing good all-around defense is a marked improvement for him.
Overall, Xavier has emerged as one of the many game-changing secondary options that populate D'Antoni's bench. In spite of his massive inefficiency in all things around the rim, he's still able to put defenses on their heels, a trait that's really only amplified in a Lakers team that absolutely struggles to draw fouls. The Lakers are nearly 6 points per possession better on offense with Xavier on the floor. That alone would make him valuable for this team, but he has also made inroads with key components that could help him build a home long term: three point shooting and defense. Thus, even though his game is whistle-dependent to get himself going offensively, as he'll go through slumps otherwise, he has reversed course into what is more of a NBA viable player.
Henry is extremely limited offensively, with a tick below usage rate for SGs, but to make matters worse he's been played out of position his first three years in the league. Offensively, shooting guards are characterized by having deep range and respectable passing ability: Henry has none of that. He had the absolute worst assist rate among SGs this year (62 out of 62 guards), and he's never been above 47th for his career; for someone who is completely inept at passing, he also has sported a slightly above average turnover rate career-wise as well. This isn't new: his one year in college saw NBA PF-levels of handles. Henry also lacks deep range, ranking 60th in three point attempts.
Henry's offense involves a heavy dose of spot-up mid-range shots (3rd) and at-rim attempts (7th) with side attempts at runners (18th), but none of these are really viable options. Henry struggles to finish at even an average pace, which isn't helped by average athleticism (he has an average dunk rate among SGs), but this year he decided to do more head-down slashing off his dribble, which has led to greater inaccuracy (54th in finishing rate this year) and more turnover proneness. He really tries hard to make things happen offensively, because he really drew the fouls (3rd with at-rim/foul drawing) and is a constant presence on the offensive boards (13th). However, while switching up runners to at-rim shots led to a slightly improved efficiency, the turnover proneness and lack of finishing undermine it somewhat. Likewise, the mid-range shots are awful: Henry's shot well below the average over the last two seasons, despite most of them being spot-up, and with a lack of range and free throw percentages between 61-63%, there isn't much hope in this front. Everything Henry does offensively is a weakness: opposing teams purposely leave him open 16 feet out because "can't shoot" is in their scouting reports, and are even happy to let him make decisions driving to the rim since "can't pass" and "can't finish" are also in those reports. It's virtually 4-on-5 on this end.
Defensively, Henry was awful this past season in New Orleans, on top of bringing negligible offense. New Orleans was already an awful defensive team last year, but somehow, Henry was their weakest link, being their worst at contesting shots. He doesn't gamble either, showing a serious lack of reflexes in accruing steals (41st this year; 54th his rookie year). But what Henry reeks of is "massive hustle player" on this end: he shows a major knack for drawing charges (5th this year an also his rookie year), and also shows a knack for getting the defensive boards, ranking 11th this year after an 18th ranking the previous year. Still, he's massively foul prone, ranking 61st this year and 47th his rookie year. Henry has somewhat of an unearned defensive rep, because while he looks the part, career-wise he's never been a stand-out in either man or team defense, and this year proves that he might be more Reggie Evans-ish on defense: gets the boards, draws charges, and hacks like crazy, but lacking in major nuances such as actually playing the defense.
Henry might have a future as a hustle player, which on offense manifests itself in drawing fouls and getting o-boards, and on defense by hacking, drawing charges and getting defensive boards, but he might still be at that phase where he's using his hustling ability to try to camouflage his severe lack of ability on both ends of the court, because of his previous standing as a lottery pick. On top of that, he's just a major tweener on offense--lacking the shooting and passing for SGs, but also lacking the athleticism, height and now suffering in rebounding if he's pegged as a full time SF. The reality is, at his current state, he's probably best as the third small forward off the bench who can operate as a hustling, energy guy, and with a fresh start with zero expectations the Lakers might see him that way.
His handles are forever broke, but there's precedence for good shooting, as he shot 42% from deep in college on top of a 78% free throw percentage, and also racked up steals and developed a 3's/D rep. That 3's/D role player rep seems super far away on both counts, but if he can deviate ever so slightly towards that again, that would help, as he's still young. Personally, it looks to me that his average athleticism has exposed a poor inside game and poor reflexes, and his shooting ability in college was a fluke, further exposing his inability to pass--and Kansas has a notorious reputation this decade for producing poor quality NBA players. Obviously, his career won't last long if he can't gain a footing on offense or defense, and it speaks volumes that he couldn't even last the full length of his rookie contract.
Last edited by rydjorker121 on Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
So he's basically a hustle player but if we play him at SF all he'd be good for is taking charges. I don't like his chances of making the team unless he completely renevated his game these past few months.
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I don't think he will make the team... we have some nice players now, and although we're not a championship squad, we have depth now and some younger players who will play hard and work well in MDA's system. I'm not sure what X can suddenly change in his game to make the coach want to play him. Maybe I'm wrong... we'll see.
"It's not realistic to get younger and better when you only have the veteran's minimum to offer free agents."
He's a camp invite so his chances for making the team are already pretty low. He's an athlete with some role player potential. There's a reason he was taken in the lottery not too long ago and that's why we gave him a call.
I hope he makes the team honestly. I'd love if we fielded a handful of the high level draft picks from the last few years that have something to prove to the league (Johnson, Young, Hill, and Henry). That'd be pretty fun to watch honestly.
The thing that confuses me about Xavier Henry is he was considered a good (some said great) shooter going into the draft by scouts. He is obviously a solid athlete with an NBA body, where did the jump shot go? I would have to think it's a mental thing, a camp invite is worth a shot.
@Farmar - You say that he should be starting based on what he's producing, but you also mention that he needs a high usage rate to be used most effectively. I don't think that's going to work when Kobe comes back. Steve Blake's low-usage style may be a better fit next to Kobe.
@Henry - If he can continue to improve his defense and be a good 3pt shooter, we may have a Danny Green-Bruce Bowen type of player on our hands with the added addition of drawing fouls.
@Blake - His passing may be "fools gold" as you say, but I think it will work better when Kobe comes back. It gives defenses another option that they have to think about. In the past, Blake has always been passive when Kobe is on the floor. Hopefully, that doesn't happen this time.
"Every time he’s hurt, he always plays, he always comes through."
Yeah, for those who have followed my scouting reports, I did a complete 180 on Farmar. Amazing, since I've hated his game before, but now I really believe he's learned. Farmar has always had that go-getter ability, so I'm happy to see everything come together. I think it should sustain over the course of the season, he's improved and solidified his game on multiple fronts.
Yeah, I think Steve Blake is a D'Antoni creation. He's just doing this passing schtick all of a sudden that's just way out of his career norms. Yet, when you watch the games, you believe it--I think SportVu tracking data has shown that he's getting some of the top mileage among players every game, and it's true--he's probing around a lot. And he's also got a bunch of point guard tricks--bounce passes, lobs, maintaining his dribble, etc. There's a part of me that believes his newfangled improvement and confidence, but at the same time if he was playing in a more conservative offense, he wouldn't be doing this. So I'm torn.
Henry at this stage is a Eurostep driving foul drawer--with our inability to draw fouls that's super important for our team. I need to see him take more threes to earn respect, and defensively he's actually decent, so here's hoping it's all coming together. I certainly think he's established himself as a NBA player at the very least.