After having checked out the Tar Heel that I thought would be the first of the four taken, even if he did “slip” a bit, Harrison Barnes and then the other sophomore from Carolina, who shocked me by being the second Heel picked, Kendall Marshall, it’s time to move up to the junior of the quartet from Chapel Hill: power forward John Henson, who landed with the Milwaukee Bucks as the 14th overall pick in this draft. While I am estatic that the young man was a lottery pick, I have to say that out of all the four players that were under head coach Roy Williams a season ago this is the pick I am somewhat scratching my head about. On a side note, with Henson being the third player from UNC taken in the lottery this year he also becomes the 10th in eight years for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Bucks have three 6’10″ players playing the position where John Henson will be looking to make his bones at the next level, with two of them, 10th year veteran Drew Gooden, who played his college ball at Kansas and is under contract with the Bucks, and fourth year guy out of Turkey Ersan Ilyasova, who is an unrestricted free agent, both getting over 25 minutes per game on average. The tandem is also scoring 13+ points each per contest, while combining for over 15 rebounds per match up. And while Henson, 6’11″/220 lbs, is definitely going to a force on the defensive side on a team where their head coach loves to preach defense, I have to see how much offense he can generate in order to believe that he will be seeing a lot of action this coming season. In addition, if the young man from Florida wants to see a decent amount of playing time he will need to improve his sub par shooting from the charity stripe, which could make him a liability in any game. I would have to imagine that the best situation for the young man who once called the Dean Dome his home is that Ilyasova, currently the back up to Gooden, is not resigned by the Bucks, as it seems to be the case (check the tweet below), opening up a great amount of minutes.
#Nets one time high radar target Ersan Ilyasova drawing interest from Bucks, Cavs, Raptors, Spurs
— Fred Kerber (@FredKerber) July 1, 2012
On a podcast I did for CLNS Radio about the NBA Draft I had a very heated discussion with one of the listeners on whether I thought that Fab Melo or John Henson would have a better career in the NBA. And while I did take Henson and we will not know if I was right or wrong in doing so for quite sometime, one thing seems to be sure about both of the above mentioned players… they will begin their National Basketball Association career coming off the bench. Which, for both of them, I think will help out in the long run. Henson is right now a good defender, shown by his back to back ACC Defensive Player of the Year award, but he still needs to bulk up some and to become even better on offense. Can he do both of those things? Without a doubt he can, will be? I am pretty sure he will, because the young man seems to be someone who enjoys playing the game and being able to do his best. Being able to do them while not having to be a major force for his squad is going to help this be a lot less stressful for both him, his coach, the team and the franchise as a whole.
In the end, Henson, unlike Barnes with the Warriors and Marshall with the Suns (if Nash leaves), will be able to use the learning curve as he enters the next basketball chapter of his career. If he can do well with it and use the time wisely I am sure in years to come he will be a defensive force to be reckon with and a good enough offensive player to warrant the minutes he gets, be it as a starter or coming off the bench. As I do with all the Tar Heels, let me wish all the best to John Henson as he prepares for his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks.