As the Charlotte Bobcats limped towards the finish in a fairly frustrating season (albeit a better one than in 2011-12), they found one thing they could be happy about: the improved play of shooting guard Gerald Henderson. Henderson has been with the Bobcats for four years and in each season, he’s displayed a little more talent than the last. In his rookie year he was little more than an afterthought; a player who couldn’t quite crack the rotation, and struggled for whatever minutes he could get. In year two, he evolved into one of the key players on the Bobcats’ second unit.
2011-12 was the biggest step forward Henderson took, as he averaged 15 points a game and established himself as the best scorer on the team. Unfortunately, since the Bobcats were so terrible that year, many wrote off Henderson’s scoring as being a simple side effect of the fact that someone has to score on every team, no matter how bad the team. As the Bobcats finished 21-61 last year, his past season might be similarly disregarded. Still, Henderson has proven himself to be a capable scorer and on a team desperate for whatever offense they can find, that’s an essential quality. Taking that into consideration, the Bobcats should make re-signing Gerald Henderson one of their top priorities.
At first glance, Henderson’s 2012-13 numbers look very similar to what he did the year before, but really, he improved in some key areas. His player efficiency rating shot up from 14.0 to 16.4, while his offensive rating went from 99 to 107. This means that Henderson has become a more efficient player, getting a better idea of when to take his shots. Admittedly, some of his struggles in that area in 2011-12 may have simply been a side effect of the horrible team he was playing for. The Bobcats had no offense whatsoever and Henderson was the one player who could be counted on to put points on the board.
That means shot selection was often a luxury he didn’t have. He had to put shots up because he was the only one could be even remotely trusted to put one up. That changed this year, as Kemba Walker established himself as a legitimate offensive threat. The thing is, if the Bobcats let Henderson go, they’ll be back to where they were two years ago, this time with Walker acting as their only guard who can be counted on the score. Retaining Henderson ensures the presence of at least one offensive player who opposing teams will have to take seriously.
Looking at the rest of the Bobcats roster, there’s just not much in the way of offensive prowess. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has limited range doing nearly all of his scoring at the rim. More importantly, he didn’t score that much all as a rookie, averaging just 9.0 points per game. That number may increase in his sophomore campaign, but it’s not a guarantee. Ben Gordon was brought in to provide an offensive spark, but it never took as he had by far the worst season of his career, looking just about washed up. The only player besides Walker and Henderson to make an impact on offense was Ramon Sessions and even he played better in the first half of the season than the second. This team needs all the offense it can get and letting go of a quality player like Henderson would simply be a foolish move.
The Bobcats have some young talent and they’re gradually building themselves into a team that can contend for a playoff spot. Even if they don’t get there next season, they are still likely to improve, especially if they make good use of their No. 4 pick in the draft. Unfortunately, if they don’t bring back Henderson, they’re likely to find themselves struggling through another 20-win season if they don’t sink even lower than that. This team is in desperate need of quality players and Henderson is one of the few they can rely on. If the Bobcats want to keep getting better, Henderson has to be around for next year and the foreseeable future.