Xavier Henry: High Ceiling, Low Bust Potential for the Smooth Lefty

As soon as players are drafted, the big question switches from "who are we going to take?" to "who did we just draft?" It’s an understandable reaction. When your team adds new players, everybody wants to know how they improved, and nobody has a hazier impact than rookies.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the two players (with Greivis Vasquez tomorrow) the Grizzlies just drafted, and what players that are already in the league that their skills might mirror.

NBA Comparison - Mike Miller

- Shooting: Like Miller, Xavier is cash from beyond the arc, but is not strictly a three point shooter. He can also shoot well from mid-range, is good as a catch and shoot guy, and can create his own shot with step-backs against smaller guards.

Don’t get it twisted, Xavier is not going to come in and immediately be the deadeye marksman that Miller is right now. Almost every rookie take some time to adjust to the longer arc. But Henry’s collegiate shooting numbers were more impressive and he's a gym rat, so he’s definitely got at least that type of potential. 

 

- Rebounding: Miller’s got a couple inches on Xavier, but Xavier is also more athletic. Overall I expect X to be a player of similar rebounding prowess to Miller; somebody who will grab loose boards pretty well for his position.

Henry has the body to bang inside at 6’6’’, 220 pounds, but he definitely appeared tentative at times last season at when it came to mixing it up inside or hitting the glass. Part of this could be because he played with a massive frontcourt, which really didn’t need any help grabbing rebounds. If X makes it a point to rebound with max effort, he’s going to be good for 4-6 rebounds with starter's minutes.

- Efficiency: Henry has proven that, just like Mike Miller, he knows when to get his and when to back off. Part of what makes Miller such a favorite with both fans and teammates is that even though his game is versatile, he doesn’t jack up a ton of shots to get his buckets. Xavier was the same way at Kansas. He was the ultimate people pleaser, letting Sherron Collin’s fat ass hoist up as many ill advised shots as he wanted, and quietly scoring whenever the offense could fit him in.

Some scouts consider that a negative in the NBA draft process, because that type of mindset will get you eaten alive, not living up to your potential, or leave you floating and settling for jumpers too often. Rudy Gay suffered the same criticism.

I really don’t think so. Henry wasn't like Derrick Favors, putting up mediocre numbers for a bad team. He put up solid numbers for the best team in the country. In short he fit in and was very productive. Just like Miller will probably be with the Heat for the next half decade.

- Defense: Both of these players are capable and intelligent defenders. Are we looking at Ron Artest-like lockdown D here? Probably not. But both guys understand how to play good defense and will hold their own.

I think the quintessential Mike Miller moment for me was January 15 2008. I was watching courtside in Memphis as LeBron was absolutely crushing Miller. He scored basically all of the Cavs last points at the end of regulation, and then led them to victory in overtime. But Miller never stopped battling. He was chasing LBJ all over the court, playing perfect defense, only to get splashed with an impossible jumper.

 I think that’s the type of defensive player Xavier will be. He will give 110%, play smart, and usually yield good results.

- Worst case: In the worst case scenario, X is a good player who doesn’t fit into this Grizz team immediately with O.J. and Rudy already entrenched. He is sort of a tweener, but he can shoot and is pretty athletic, two things that translate to buckets at any position.

If the Grizzlies staff does absolutely nothing to help him develop, I’d put Henry at the level of Roger Mason Jr. He would become almost strictly a shooter with decent size and athleticism, a one dimensional player who doesn't make mistakes, defends well, and can contribute to a winner.

Best case: X is could be a star. Don’t forget, this kid will be just 19 basically all of his rookie year, and he was the number 8 ranked player in the Rivals 2009 high school class rankings (and he was tied for number 1 on ESPN) . So I’ll go Joe Johnson here: A bigger guard who can shoot, score, distribute, and defend with the best of them. Xavier does have a ceiling because his athleticism isn't elite, so he’ll never be Kobe or D-Wade, but he can still be pretty damn good.

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