At least he’s still got that great smile. Yes, at long last after an epic tug-of-war for the 13th spot with Rashad Vaughn, it’s time to bid adieu to everyone’s favorite punching bag on the Bucks roster, John Henson. At this point, it’s almost getting to the point that I’m sympathizing with the man given the amount of ridicule he seems to get (I share plenty of that blame), but the fact is Henson’s development’s remained inert for several years. He may point to his lack of playing time as a primary reason, but he’s had plenty of chances to shore up his position as the Bucks’ center, yet has been beaten out time and again by the likes of Zaza Pachulia, Miles Plumlee and Spencer Hawes.
Yes, Henson is certainly subject to an overcrowded position, but skill would win out if he flashed enough. Unfortunately even his most adept talent, blocking shots, seemed to wane last year. He averaged the least blocks per-36 since his sophomore season, and opponents shot 50.9% against him, a precipitous drop from his stingy 42.3% the year prior. Not to mention the fact that places him lower than the dubious company of Jahlil Okafor and even his 14th ranked teammate Spencer Hawes. Opponents weren’t deterred by his vulture wingspan, and that length did little to help him on the offensive end either.
Henson’s effective field goal percentage (51.5%) was the worst of his career, owing partly to the fact he took an unseemly amount of jump shots this year. Seemingly once a game, he’d reach deep into a bag of tricks as a fluttering of moths emerged and he pulled up for a jumper. After attempting just 16 shots from 10 feet or further the year prior, he ended this year with 41 such shots this year. He shot 24.3% and finished with enough bricks to build a brownstone. His interior percentage within five feet didn’t drop too much (59.0% down from 61.8%), but he’s never put up the type of volume to be an adept scorer down low, averaging around 3.5 shots in that area.
He hasn’t been able to become the rim-rolling big man the Bucks hoped he could either during that brief flash several season ago. He was in the 32nd percentile in terms of roll men last year. His lack of strength continues to hinder him and his lack of agility on the perimeter isn’t well suited to the Bucks’ scheme. Then again, the same could be said of Greg Monroe, but Monroe’s gotten far better at judging angles and trying to prevent the ball handler from slipping through the hold. Henson seems too gangly to prevent someone from slithering through, and he doesn’t have the athleticism of someone like Thon to recover back to the basket after a mistake.
Qualms with his game aside, Henson is still eating up a considerable chunk of Milwaukee’s cap sheet while enjoying bench life. He’ll make $11.4 million this year, fourth-highest on the team behind Giannis, Monroe and Middleton. While his contract may be declining in value, that’s about the only asset attributed to Henson at this point. I still feel like some weirdly throw his name around as a part of the Bucks’ core and view him as a premier defender capable of far more. That reputation feels built on a small sample size and I think the majority of Bucks fans would disagree with those assertions having watched him languish without asserting himself on the court. While his contributions as a congratulatory, comforting teammate are welcomed, I think most Bucks fans wouldn’t mind if he got a chance to flash those pearly whites in a different uni. Unfortunately, I’d peg those chances at about the same percentage as Henson’s jumper this year.
Brew Hoop 2017-18 Roster Ranking
12. John Henson
13. Rashad Vaughn
14. Spencer Hawes
15. Gary Payton II
The 11th most valuable Buck on the roster is...
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