Tenth Pick Tournament Round One: John Henson vs. Royce White

Published: June 8, 2012

Round One of the Hornets247 Tenth Pick Tournament continues with Joe Gerrity discussing UNC’s John Henson and Jason Calmes discussing Iowa State’s Royce White.

Royce White

(By: Jason Calmes)

With the presumed selection of Anthony Davis by the Hornets with the first overall pick, a power forward drafted in the tenth slot will be a backup and complement to the potential hall-of-famer. Also, this new big man may be sharing the front court with one of Jason Smith, Emeka Okafor, and Gustavo Ayon for a couple of years.

So which of these All-American Honorable Mentions fits with these specific players: UNC’s John Henson or Iowa State’s Royce White?

Henson is projected by many NBA experts to be selected well before White, but those projections, of course, totally ignore the Hornets in terms of who they are and will become. It takes a Hornets expert to wonder why would we draft a 6’10” 215 lbs. big man and pay him $2.2m when we already have guys measuring at 7’0” 240 lbs., 6’10” 250 lbs., and 6’10” 255 lbs.? By the way, two of these are being paid $1.5m and $2.5m.

Uniformity at a position may be tempting, but variety in player build and skill set is essential in the modern NBA, and we already have a guy that is more talented at being tall than Henson. His shooting from the line and the field and rebounding in the pros surpasses those of Henson in college.

Also, Henson is not a master of any skill. He’s a very good player, and a good defender . . . in college. His 21.5 year old frame, however, is not going to get much bigger, so he can only pack on muscle and hope to approach the size of the bigs already on the roster, unlike the recently-turned-19 Davis. Henson may be Diet Davis now, but he’ll be Davis Zero in due time.

Henson is just out-Hensoned on our team.

Royce White is a different animal.

At 6’8” 260 lbs, he’ll be the guy pushing the 215 lbs. Hensons around next season. No Hornet comes close to this guy’s density, and this will come in handy when we need to handle Big Baby (Tiger), etc.

Royce gets (per 40 pace adjusted minutes for all counts), 11.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks compared to the 3” taller Henson’s 12.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks. One the other side, however, White’s true shooting percentage of 54% and 1.5 steals compares favorably to Henson’s 51% and 0.7, balancing the scales.

Speaking of stats, Royce led his team in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, and assists. Oh, assists . . .

Royce’s 6.3 assists led power forwards in the NCAA this year, with second place netting 5.2, is good for second most in the past decade. Combining this with his steal numbers, we have to be impressed with Royce’s 11.5” wide hands and his mind that taught those largest-at-the-combine hands to play the piano and conduct a basketball orchestra. His facilitator role fully contextualizes his comparatively high turnover rate and foul rate: He’s not your ordinary power forward, like Henson.

This also makes him the best backup for Davis, another forward with great ball-handling skills. A proper backup lets a Davis-based system be fully installed and helps to preserve the young star, something Chris Paul could not benefit from here.

Royce White is a different animal.

Though both players are 21, Royce has only played one year compared to Henson’s three, and the above numbers come from Henson’s most recent year. Royce spent 2.5 years away from basketball stemming from legal problems at his home state’s flagship school, the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. His generalship of the Cyclones, recent loss of 10 lbs, the Hornets’ pace, and his role as a backup will effectively mitigate any conditioning concerns as he takes his playing streak to two seasons.

Additionally, Royce was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, which manifests itself in at least a fear of flying, which he effectively deals with. His interviews have impressed decision-makers. As always, some reports have been exaggerated, and the bogeymen are staying under the bed. Additionally, Royce has had no legal issues since the birth of his son, Angelic, and the blossoming of his off-court life.

Royce White is a different animal.

Royce Alexander White is raw, sure, but just means he has potential. With Henson, what you see, which is impressive, is what you get . . . and what you already have . . .

Is more of the same what we want? Teams just don’t win titles by making it easy to predict their offense and defense. They win them being able to take on all comers. This requires, in additional to a top talent, variety and virtuosity in the supporting cast. I invite you ponder roles of variety and virtuosity in recent NBA champions before casting your vote on which of these two to add to the Hornets.

John Henson

(By: Joe Gerrity)

Royce White can handle the rock, drive the lane, elevate, grab boards, score with his back to the basket, handle himself on defense, and make some sick passes. He’s the kind of college player that makes your eyes bulge and your brain race—He could be the next great thing. He could revolutionize the way we look at the point-forward position. He could… He could…

He won’t.

If last year is any indication of the future, White is a guy who needs to have the ball in his hands to be effective. When he was on the floor the offense ran through him, and for good reason—He struggled when it wasn’t. Only 20% of his offense came from cuts, being the non-ball handler on the pick-and-roll, or spot up shots. White shot 29.4 % as a jump shooter last year. He hit only 31.3% as a spot-up shooter.

So his value off the ball is… let’s say limited at best.

So let’s give him the rock, you say? Even as an older, physically developed big man in college, White shot only 53.4 percent. At first glance his passing numbers look great—he had five a game—but that must be taken with a grain of salt because of his 3.8 turnovers.

Right off the bat it will simply be destructive for the Hornets to put the ball in the hands of a guy whose offensive game is clearly limited by an inability to hit from the outside. College players are a lot less capable of taking advantage of their oppositions’ weaknesses than their professional counterparts. It won’t be too hard for the top coaches in the NBA to figure out that you need to keep him outside. If you do that, you render him ineffective. His only real options will be the useless jumper or to utilize the pass, which as I’ve mentioned, frequently winds up in the hands of the opposition.

The jumper is years away, and until he gets one he’s just not going to be an effective player for a good team. DeMarcus Cousins light, maybe, but is that really what we need going forward?

Off the court he was kicked off his college team in Minnesota, had multiple run-ins with the law, and has a fairly serious case of anxiety which causes a fear of flying among other things. I mentioned before that sometimes adversity can make a player stronger, but in this case there isn’t much evidence that White really grew up all that much from his experiences. He’s never had to embrace a role as anything but a number one guy, and because of his anxiety it’s unclear how he’ll respond to the pressure of playing and traveling in the spotlight of the national media, especially if/when he’s riding the pine.

Did I mention he’s short (6’7 at the combine)? So. Sick. Of. Short. Bigs.

In the end there are simply too many potential hindrances to Royce White’s development to risk taking him with the 10, especially when the alternative—John Henson – is so much better.

Henson is 6’10 with a 7’6 wingspan. He’s been referred to as Anthony Davis light, and if you look at his blocking and foul numbers you’ll see why. He averaged nearly two blocks per foul, and pulled down 10 boards per 29 minutes of action. The guy is a long, super athletic, defensive-minded big man with developing offensive skills.

While I hesitate to call anyone a sure thing, there isn’t much stopping Henson from being a defensive force in the NBA aside from his build. He’s currently rather skinny, but has already added 10 pounds of muscle this summer and plans to continue to bulk up. While he won’t be physically able to bang down low with the bigs in the NBA for a few years, his length and athleticism will give him the advantage in the long run. That is, after all, what we’re really building toward.

On the perimeter his defense is NBA-ready from day one. He possesses the ability to follow jump shooting power forwards outside, using his length to disrupt their shot. Combine his length with his quickness and he’s capable of staying with and keeping guards there as well. Similarly, opponents can forget about trying to pick and roll on him as his skill at changing directions, again combined with length, allows him to trap hard and still recover.

Henson’s offensive game is a work in progress, but he’s greatly improved his post game in his three years at UNC. Among other things, he’s developed a solid move–his unorthodox left handed hook shot, which he utilizes more often than his natural right hand. That he’s capable of using both hands bodes well for his future development.

Also working in his favor is, again, his length. While he’s not the best trash man in the world, he pulls enough offensive rebounds to get his fair share of put-backs. Additionally his long strides and straight-line speed result in quite a few transition buckets for the big man.

All in all you’re looking at years of “potential”, or years of a solid defensive player with the tools to be effective on offense as well.



  1. Michael McNamara

    June 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Wow! You guys killed it in your arguments. Went in with an open mind and was leaning White after Jason’s argument. I believe you said something about him being a different animal?

    But Joe’s argument that White needs the ball to be effective was strong. How about White as the leader of a second unit that plays vastly different than the first? Make him the point forward when Gordon is out of the game. I like it.

    Great points guys; maybe the most interesting matchup of the first round because these guys are SO different.

    I voted for…..

    • StefanC

      June 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm


  2. gabe

    June 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    i like the thought of white as a 2nd unit point forward – it would be awesome to watch if it worked. his finishing and jumper could use some work, for sure. but his handle/passing/fast break seem special

    loving this tourney, yall

  3. Box 10,000,000

    June 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I have heard that John Henson could possibly guard the the longer SF of the NBA i.e. Durant, Granger, Gay… I did not watch much UNC this year, but If a guy has the potential to defend the tougher guys in the league and possibly be a weak side helper he seems like a great prospect.

  4. Jordan J.

    June 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t like the “Do it all” forwards like White. It seems to me too often they bust because they’re not elite at anything. They’re just capable of doing everything a little better than everyone else. And when they come to the NBA that changes.

  5. kempleton

    June 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Very well written 42! White wins my vote.

    Are you guys planning to hang onto the same players that advance while writing in the next round of comparisons?

  6. NOLA Hustle

    June 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I had been very open to considering henson with our pick before the lottery granted us ad, a lot of duplication there.

    he’s a great kid, intelligent, monty type of player who works hard on d and will be a great weakside helper in the nba

    i worry about his offense in the pros as he wont be able to launch that little hook when he’s getting washed out of the box by stronger bigs

    he’s a more appropriate camby comparison with the springs the outstanding timing, even the quirky jump shot

    royce is interesting, a lot of “experts” are real high on his potential and find him underrated. i like the idea of a big who can pass especially with our 2nd unit who moved the ball very well as a group last year (ayon, greivis, especially)

    it just seems like a reach with 10, that he’d be more of an option if he traded down say for houstons 14 and / or 16

    • Michael McNamara

      June 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      I get the “reach” argument in the NFL draft where it is easier to trade back and acquire more picks, but it doesn’t work that way in the NBA. If you do your evaluation and you like White the most there, you take him regardless of what Chad Ford thinks. I mean, if you took Kenneth Fariad at #12 last year it would have been called a reach then, but look like a genius move now.

      • NOLA Hustle

        June 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm

        i mean does the pick range correlate with the ceiling of expectations. if i’m hearing from most folks let’s hope this dude works out to be an integral part of our second unit that sounds like a post lottery pick

        @ 10 i hope to hear that there’s more hope for a player to blow up and become an all star

  7. NOLA Hustle

    June 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

  8. Ian H

    June 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I like Henson and as Joe mentioned several times his length. What he and Anthony Davis could do down low when the Hornets pack it in on teams would be awesome. Jason Smith’s biggest area of improvement was taking advantage of his length and becoming more than a pick and pop shooter so to have 3 of those types would be awesome for a team who bases the gameplan on defense and playing at a slower pace. I do have a question, if some team was to overdraft say A Drummonds and Perry Jones in the top 6 picks and other top prospects fell would the Hornets be willing to trade #1 and #10 for LaMarcus Alridge, #6, #11, and a future 1st rounder? I think Hornets would get a 20/10 guy in his prime and still could get 2 solid starters at #6 and #11 depending on who fell. Thoughts please?

    • Mike P

      June 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      I saw that trade on the Blazers’ forum. I don’t think it’d cut it, personally. Aldridge is an All-Star caliber player, but doesn’t look to be a HOF kind of guy.

      It’s so hard to say this early on that any player is anything, but most people think Anthony Davis has HOF potential. Aldridge is great, but you don’t trade All-Stars for Hall of Famers. Also, Davis will be under a rookie contract, giving us much more flexibility moving forward than Aldridge’s contract would allow.

      • Ian H

        June 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm

        And that makes a lot of sense too. I was just curious is Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers better than LaMarcus Alridge, Harrison Barnes, and Austin Rivers. I understand wholeheartedly the financial flexibility part but besides Gordon that is where most of your money is tied up in. There is no guarantee Demps will be able to attract a good FA without overpaying and we see how that worked out with Peja. Alridge may not be a HOF player but there is no question about his talent and he was a top 3 pick who has matured and polished his game. If this draft wasn’t as deep I would say no way but with a Henson available or several other PF’s is Davis far and away going to be better than Alridge beyond a shadow of a doubt?

      • Mike P

        June 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm

        There are always a lot of variables when you’re dealing with college freshmen declaring for the draft, but the most experts say that Davis is the best big man prospect since Griffin, Howard, or Duncan, depending on who you talk to. He is an absolute game-changer on defense with his length, motor, athleticism, and timing. You didn’t see it much at Kentucky, but he has a good bit of offensive skill as well. If you want to see his skill, go back to his senior year mixtape on youtube. His college mixes don’t have much because he wasn’t asked to do much on offense besides finish at the rim and run pick and rolls.

        IMO, Aldridge is just a taller, slightly more athletic DWest. You just don’t trade once in a decade talents like Davis for that type of player.

      • Mike P

        June 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm

        most experts***

  9. DREWBEEZ989

    June 8, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    i wouldn’t do the above trade, if for no other reason, it takes away our potential franchise player and gives us one or two solid to quasi all star players. its that a team that can compete with okc?no. it would be a good playoff team if gordon stays healthy nothing more.

    • Ian H

      June 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      But also being realistic OKC has another year or two before they have to break that team up. Harden will not be on that team in 2 years they can’t afford him along with Ibaka and the two stars. A team composed of Austin Rivers, E Gordon, Aminu/Ariza, Alridge, and Henson or so could be competitive and Henry, Vasquez, Ayon, and Smith still on the roster as well. Not a bad lineup at all.

  10. alex

    June 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    On ESPN U they have the draft combine

  11. DREWBEEZ989

    June 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Thats true. I was just talking with a friend about them not being able to resign Harden or Ibaka in a year or two. However, I would only consider the trade if we didnt have a second lottery pick. Since we have two, we should be able to add one all star in Davis and possibly a good role player or better with pick 10. Im just not giving up Davis for anyone short of Lebron not even Howard. The reason being its too easy to stop Howard when the game is on the line( just foul him).
    That wouldnt be a concern if we could count on Gordon, but we cant ( he’ll probably be hurt). Davis with solid work could get to where Aldridge is on offense, but Aldridge will never be the threat Davis is on Defense. No garuntees with any pick ,but Davis does have the potential and drive to be one of the greats. Can you imagine where he can be in 6 years with strong coaching, work, and weight lifting? and he will just be entering his prime @ 24-25!!!!!SCAREY

  12. Mr. West

    June 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Voted for White due to his sweet tattoos… Nah, I voted for White because I feel like you can have too much of a good thing. Henson is Davis light, and I feel like you a winning formula is easier to develope with a diverse cast, rather than a (for lack of better word) redundant one.

    Plus… I love me some point-forwards.

  13. Kenneth Grooms

    June 9, 2012 at 12:39 am

    White is a complete player, a “do it all forward” but I know what you mean, Jordan J. I hate those type of players too. Like Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird, Lebron James, Clyde Drexler, John Havlicek, Dr. J. I would hate to have them on my team.

  14. Hornets686

    June 9, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Is White is Lee Nalion!?!? 😉

  15. kfte

    June 9, 2012 at 1:04 am

    White does have some issues. The Hornets need to do a complete evaluation of him. I am somewhat afraid of him,not on the court skills, but the anxiety problems. I am not high on Benson. Lillard at the point, may be just what we need; Jack is not the long term answer at the point guard position.

  16. NOH Domination

    June 9, 2012 at 1:05 am

    I don’t want either player at 10, but I really want Royce White on my team.

  17. Ron

    June 9, 2012 at 6:09 am

    Yet Another PF?????

  18. JT's Hoops Blog

    June 9, 2012 at 10:54 am

    New Orleans should instead focus using the 12th pick on an athletic wing in Jeremy Lamb or Austin Rivers because they are already full to the brim with PFs already.

  19. NOLA_Fredo

    June 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I opted for Henson over White because I think Henson will be a great defender whereas White will likely be a jack of all trades but a master of none. Look at OKC and Ibaka. He doesn’t need to be a great scorer because that falls to Durant, Westbrook and Harden. With the Hornets, that will fall to Davis, Gordon and the 3rd big piece.

    I’d rather we use that 10th pick to land a guy who can contribute in some significant way.

    That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if White keeps climbing the draft boards and goes anywhere from #8-#14

  20. da ThRONe

    June 9, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Henson and Davis are very similar in what they bring to a team. Just based on that I’ll say White.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.