Young Pups Volume 4: Xavier Henry

Published: February 15, 2012

We take a look at the newest Young Pup and see how he got here and where he is going

We’ve only seen just over a hundred minutes of Xavier Henry in a Hornets uniform, but that won’t stop us from trying to assess his short-term and long-term impact to not just this, but any NBA team.

Beginning His Journey

It’s been a very frustrating start to Xavier’s career in the NBA. He was drafted out of Kansas as a young 18 year old who could make an impact to any team. Touted as a potential scorer in the league, Henry had the tools you wanted out of a shooting guard. He was physically gifted above all else, possessed athleticism and had a very large wingspan.

Though as we Hornets fans know, physical tools mean little if you can’t put it on the floor. That’s where Xavier has found trouble. It hasn’t been through disappointing play, rather he has never had the chance to consistently show his game at the NBA level.

Where others have had a chance to grow and develop, Henry has sat out trying to come back from injuries.

From Memphis to New Orleans

After an injury plagued rookie season in Memphis, Henry was traded to the New Orleans Hornets for a second-round draft pick. This was a somewhat low risk maneuvre for Dell Demps with the promise Henry possessed.

As noted before, it’s tough to understand where Henry’s impact can come from. Despite Marco Belinelli having an atrocious season Henry has seen limited action. This is most likely due to conditioning, but no one is sure.

Xavier has been particularly aggressive in his limited minutes, asserting himself where he sees fit. As an observer I’m having a tough time understanding his game. Is he a scorer, slasher, shooter, what is he best at?

At times you notice he too is at odds where he fits in the NBA scene. He looks like he could possess a nice NBA stroke, but can miss badly from both mid-range and the free-throw line, never the mark of a pure shooter.

However this is more likely due to an overwhelming amount of pressure being place on him. Not by anyone but himself. Against the Jazz on Monday Henry made it to the free-throw line seven times. He hit only two of those. You could see the frustration on his face, he knew he had an opportunity but failed to take it.

Sports is an interesting combination of physical skill and mental ability. I know Henry may be frustrated but he can’t let that get to him.

Heading on and into the Future

Xavier will get his playing time, especially on this team. Whether it be through a lack of game conditioning or not being used to the NBA game, Henry needs to be patient and remain aggressive.

We’ve already seen it from him briefly that he’s excellent through contact, he can get to the free-throw line. In the NBA that’s huge. With that he needs to be more relaxed and not get overexcited when he has a jumpshot. His form is decent, but at times he rushes his stroke because he’s had very limited opportunities to shoot from distance.

Henry is still very young. He’s about to turn 21 and has seen just over 600 NBA minutes, making him a very raw prospect. I’m going to keep watching him and seeing what he does when he has court time. He has an opportunity in front of him to grasp a starting SG spot.

That’s not going away anytime soon, he’s going to get his minutes. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions with Henry, but over time we’ll find out whether he was worthy of that top-15 selection.

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