Season in Review: Xavier Henry

Published: May 4, 2013

Our series of 2012-13 New Orleans Hornets player evaluations continues with Xavier Henry, the little-used swingman out of Kansas.

In January of 2012, Dell Demps slipped into a trade being completed between the 76ers and Grizzlies, using a little of his cap space to pry away the former number 12 pick of the 2010 draft, Xavier Henry. The cost was a 2013 second round pick – explaining the Hornets lack of pick in the second round this year. Since then, Xavier has had his chances on a team starving for competent swingmen, but he has never been able to produce reliably. Dell, never one to give in to sentiment, declined Xavier’s rookie option for his fourth season, making Henry a free agent for this coming market. As of right now, it is unlikely he will return.

Where He Started

After three seasons deep on the bench, most have forgotten what a phenomenal prospect Xavier used to be. He was ranked in the top 10 in the nation for his 2009 high school class – holding the 2nd or third best ranking as a shooting guard prospect. He had some big moments at Kansas, including setting a debut record for the Jayhawks when he scored 27 points in his first game.

Xavier’s size, strength and shooting in college made him a major prospect hitting the NBA. Most pundits – including me – assumed that even if the rest of his game didn’t come together, he’d parlay strong shooting numbers into a role as a shooter in the NBA.

Some things just don’t work out the way you’d expect.

2012-13 Advanced Stats

First, a simple chart that shows how Xavier Henry fared compared to the 2012-13 NBA average for Guards who played at least 10 games and 10 minutes per game in the NBA(courtesy of

Player Name Usage TS% Assist% TO Rate Reb Rate Pts/40 Min
League Average 19.83% 53.5% 22.34% 10.92% 6.0% 15.7
Xavier Henry 16.73% 48.3% 6.63% 11.6% 8.5% 12.1


Not good.

2012-13 Season Strengths

Free Throw Rate

Xavier showed across his career that he was going to attack the basket off the dribble with abandon. If the guy guarding him wasn’t napping twenty feet away, Henry was going to eschew the long-range shot and drive. This resulted in a free throw rate of 0.46 – or a free throw on every other shot. That number is excellent and ranked 5th in the league among guards – beating out many players known for their ability to draw free throws like Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade – and even our own Eric Gordon, who earned a free throw rate of 0.33.


Xavier Henry had the knack of leveraging his powerful frame into rebounds, ranking in the top 20 on both sides of the floor among all guards and swingmen.

Three point stroke

When Henry actually took three pointers, he was a decent shooter. This season, he hit 36.4% of his shots from deep – almost exactly average for guards, while last season he managed to hit 41%, indicating this was a replicable ability going forward.

2012-13 Season Weaknesses

Shot Selection

Despite Henry’s assault on the basket, he had one major issue that made him infinitely less effective as a floor spacer: His shot form made it nearly impossible to take the corner three. When Henry sets his feet, he takes a step forward. With the limited real estate in the corner, that inevitably made him turn an open three into an open two. The result was him shooting fully 18% of his shots from the wing mid-range shot – and only 4.8% of his shots from the corner three. In general, more than a third of Xavier’s shots came from the dumb zone. 6% came from three, negating any shooting talent he may have brought to the table. Taking 50% of his shots at the rim, helped, but not enough.

Poor free throw shooting 

Henry’s strength is getting to the line. This could be a major asset – if he wasn’t the 12th worst free throw shooting guard in the league, hitting 61.4% of his free throws compared to the league guard average of 80.0%. Another strength negated.


Yes, the team as a whole was poor defensively. That doesn’t negate the fact that Henry was going up against second-tier players and getting torched. He ranked 330th in the league at stopping players who iso’d against him. He ranked 145th (his best number) at limiting spot-up shooting over him. According to synergy sports, he allowed 1.01 points per possession where he was the primary defender. That ranks 426th overall. Again, going against second tier guys. That’s brutal.

Everything Else

No reason to keep going here. X shot poorly from everywhere inside the three point line. He never passed, turned the ball over more often then he should, fouled a ton, and got blocked on 13% of his shots – only 5 guards were blocked more frequently. (Yes, Austin is one of them. Sigh.)

The Future

No way for me to sugar-coat this one. Xavier hasn’t really improved from his rookie season. He hasn’t gained Monty’s trust in any meaningful way. He tries hard, seems like a good guy – but his game can’t even be described as “having holes”.  It can barely be called game at all.

If Henry comes back next year, I’ll be shocked.

Check out the entire Season in Review series here at


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