Charlotte Bobcats: Is Gerald Henderson a Legit No. 1 Scoring Option?

Gerald Henderson

Gerald Henderson, right, jokes with Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan during training camp in October 2012. (Photo by CANDYMICKY/Flickr.com)

There haven’t been too many bright spots this season for Gerald Henderson and the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Bobcats have followed up a historically bad 7-59 season with another terrible season, as the Bobcats are currently 18-57 and heading towards another last-place finish in the weaker Eastern Conference. There are some talented players on the Bobcats, but the team is a project that will likely remain out of playoff contention for at least another year.

Kemba Walker has averaged a solid 17 points per game (PPG) for Charlotte and he has taken major strides towards becoming a star (via Hoops Habit). Henderson and Walker have formed a nice backcourt tandem, as Henderson is averaging 15.4 PPG. His .448 shooting percentage is decent and so is his .823 free throw percentage. However, Henderson is averaging less than five free-throw attempts per game, so his free-throw shooting goes to waste a lot.

Against the New York Knicks on Friday, March 29, Henderson dropped 34 points and shot 17 free throws, making 15 of them. Against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, March 27, Henderson got to the free-throw line 10 times (making nine of those shots) and scored 35 points. Those two games showed how good Henderson can be and how much the former Duke star is improving.

Henderson averaged 20.1 PPG in March, which is very impressive considering that only 10 qualified players have averaged more PPG this season. In his last 20 games, Henderson has scored at least 11 points and he has scored 34 or more in three of those games. In a span of nine games from March 12-29, Henderson averaged 24.8 PPG.

Those kind of numbers are typically only possessed by stars. Henderson has definitely shown flashes of being a star.

If Henderson attacks the hoop and gets to the free-throw line, he can definitely increase his scoring numbers. Henderson has only attempted 10 or more free throws in five games this year and in his last four games with at least 10 attempts, he has scored 27 points, 34 points and 35 points twice.

That’s an average of 32.8 PPG, which is great. In the five games where Henderson has attempted 10 or more foul shots, he has averaged 29.2 PPG.

From March 27-April 3, Henderson averaged 8.4 free-throw attempts per game, which is enough to get him a few extra points–if he can keep it up. Henderson will get to the line more over time, as he can help the Bobcats a lot by doing so. Henderson is already scoring and is already an efficient scorer, as his player efficiency rating (PER) of 16.8 is easily more than the league average of 15 and ninth among all shooting guards (although the PER numbers are very close, and Henderson was fifth as recently as Friday, April 5).

Being on a losing team has cost Henderson some national attention, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t improved and that he isn’t becoming one of the league’s premier scorers. If Henderson can continue to score as much as he has been scoring now, he will likely crack the top 10 in PPG by the end of the 2013-14 season. Recently, he has been coming into his own and that production will continue.

Outside of Walker and Henderson, the Bobcats don’t have any legitimate scoring options. Henderson has been carrying the team with his offense, as Charlotte is 3-1 in games where Henderson has scored at least 27 points (which is saying a lot considering Charlotte’s poor record).

Henderson is in his fourth season, so he isn’t done growing at all. LeBron James is in his 10th NBA season and has finally reached his peak (James is averaging 26.9 PPG, 8.1 rebounds per game and 7.2 assists per game), so Henderson still has lots of growing to do. He is averaging just more than 30 minutes per game (MPG) this year, but from March 27-April 3, Henderson averaged 39.6 MPG (and 25.8 PPG). He’s scoring more and earning more playing time, which is a sign that the Bobcats will be building around Henderson.

The Bobcats are getting better and so is Henderson. He has played like a legitimate top scoring option recently and that’s exactly the role he will assume next year. Henderson has taken a bit of time to come into his own, but he is attacking the hoop, taking more shots, getting to the free-throw line more and scoring more points. The Bobcats aren’t a good team yet, but Henderson has given them reasons for optimism.

And he will give them more reasons for optimism when he becomes one of the league’s top-flight scorers during the 2013-14 season.

Topics: Charlotte Bobcats, Gerald Henderson, NBA

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