Hornets’ Wing Prospects: George and Henry

Published: June 10, 2010

The rumors out of the Hornets camp is that they are somewhat interested in a pair of Wing players that may be avialable to them in the draft.  Those players, Paul George and Xavier Henry, could possibly address some of the glaring needs the Hornets have at the wing, so here is a little more about each of them.

Paul George, SF/SG, 20 years old

George played for a small school, Fresno State, and has spent his time fighting the stigma that comes with having not played in a major conference against major talent night in and night out.  Despite that, his workouts have reportedly been impressive and he’s been shooting up the draft, already gaining about fifteen spots from the mid-20’s to the early teens since the college season ended.  The danger there, of course, is that George could just be a workout wonder that won’t ever really develop into anything.  His stats, as you will see, do seem to indicate this may be the case.

Specific Strengths: George is exceptional at one thing: Free throw Percentage.  Last season, he completed freebies at 90%, and was the 2nd best in the draft class.   Other than that, he ranked in the top ten among swingmen in his class at two other things: steals and blocks – which John Hollinger will tell you are usually the marks of a great athlete.  However, outside of those three categories, it’s hard to call anything else he does a strength.  He’s better than average at most other things –  effective FG%, True Shooting %, assist rate, and rebounding rate – but he’s only moderately better than average at best.

Specific Weaknesses: George is downright poor at one thing:  Turnovers.  He loves him some turnovers.  While he managed a decent number of assists, he also managed even more turnovers.

Summary: I’m having a hard time getting behind drafting George.  I have seen some of his very impressive workout tapes, but the cold, hard numbers don’t support him as a huge talent. 

If we look at this purely from the standpoint of whether George should upgrade some of our positions – there’s little question in my mind he would help produce a little better rebounding and slashing at our small forward position.  He is also good enough as a shooter he couldn’t be left wide open at the three point line – and his free throw percentage and last year’s production indicates he could turn out to be a good shooter from deep.  But . . . he also produced merely average overall numbers against what really was sub-par college competition, and stating he can out-produce Peja Stojakovic, James Posey and Morris Peterson as slashers and rebounders is damning him with faint praise. 

He is the classic “draft on athleticism and potential” case . . . but over the past few drafts I’ve become a strong believer that the player, even one rolling on potential, needs to at least show one NBA ready skill – or you get Julian Wright.  I’m not convinced George has that.

Physical Data from the Combine

Paul George did not pariticipate in all of the tests available at the combine, so his available measurements are limited.

Player Height w/o Shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach No Step Vert Max Vert Bench Press Lane Agility 3/4 Court Sprint
Average SF  6′ 6.09″  213  6′ 10.4  8′ 8.1″  29.6  34.6  10.9  11.38  3.26
Paul George  6’7.75″  214  6’11.25  8’11”      4    


Xavier Henry, SG, 19 years old

Xavier Henry played on a powerhouse Kansas squad this last year after being a very hyped product coming out of high school.  He was a major contributer to that team, but still more of a piece of the puzzle than a dominant player, sporting a pretty low usage rate for a scoring guard prospect.  The Hornets will be looking at him in workouts in the coming weeks, presumably to see if he’s got the capabilities to play either of the wing positions.

Specific Strengths: Henry is only 19 years old, but is already a physical specimen with an exceptionally sweet shooting stroke.  Among all the draft prospects, he had the third best three point percentage on a very large number of attempts.  His defensive statistics – steals and blocks – were also pretty solid, and his turnover rate was low.  If the Hornets are looking for someone to replace Peja Stojakovic’s ability to space the floor, they couldn’t go wrong with Henry.

Specific Weaknesses: Everything else.  As you’d expect for a spot-up shooter, Henry rarely drew free throws but when he did, he still only hit them at an average rate.  His rebounding was poor.  He had very, very few assists and turnovers, but still managed to give the ball away more than he got assists.  If the Hornets are looking for someone to replace Peja Stojakovic’s *ahem* contributions as a rebounder and passer, they couldn’t go wrong with Henry.

Summary: Henry is young, and he may be able to develop his ball-handling skill to enable him to become a slasher over the next couple years.  If he manages that, he could be an exceptional talent.  Right now, however, he is Rasual Butler with a better stroke, which means he’ll contribute nicely to spreading the floor, but not provide any of the all-around play or slashing the Hornets have been missing from their wings for years.  While I would be happy if the Hornets selected him, since he definitely has an NBA-ready skill, I don’t necessarily see his acquisition as fixing any of the glaring holes the Hornets have on their team for at least a couple years.

Physical Data from the Combine

Player Height w/o Shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach No Step Vert Max Vert Bench Press Lane Agility 3/4 Court Sprint
Average SG   6′ 3.49″  202  6′ 7.9″  8′ 4.6″  29.6  34.9  10.6  11.31  3.23
Xavier Henry  6’5.25″  210  6’11.25″  8’9″  28.5  36.5  8  11.10  3.18

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