If you type “Xavier Henry” into Google search and then hit space, you will find that the first autocomplete is “Xavier Henry bust”. That’s pretty much all I need to tell for you to get the gist of how his career has gone so far, but I’ll elaborate anyways.
He’s shooting 40 percent in his career from the field in his career. His player efficiency rating last season was 7.6, where 15 is average, 31.6 is Lebron James, and 2.4 is Jared Jeffries. While he was on the floor last season, the Hornets got outscored by an average of 17 points per 100 possessions. He has more career turnovers than assists, despite being a guard. And finally, despite his DraftExpress profile before the 2010 draft identifying “3-point range” and “3-point percentages” as strengths of his, he has made exactly thirteen threes in his NBA career. Stephen Curry had a two game stretch last season where he made eighteen.
So, no. Henry hasn’t shown us what was expected from him when he chose to forego his sophomore season at Kansas to play in the NBA. But he’s still just 22 years old, is a good athlete, and is a solid defender. He’s shown the three ball in the past (in college he shot 69-for-165 in his one season there), but needs to keep working on it to try to find its accuracy again. He’s a work in progress, and that’s quite alright. The Lakers have low expectations this season and that means that they’ll be able to be more flexible with lineups to try to get everyone experience and build for a brighter future. Henry’s one of the youngest players on the team and a great place to start for that kind of endeavor.
Through two games of preseason play, Xavier Henry has been easily the best player for the Lakers. He has led the team in scoring each night and looks more comfortable than he ever has with the ball in his hands on offense. There aren’t many sample sizes smaller than two games, so I’ll refrain from overreacting, but I’ve been thoroughly impressed. Perhaps he got into the gym with Kobe a little bit during the summer to learn some tricks of the trade? He’s been attacking the basket, knocking down the mid-range jumper, and has even been a threat from beyond the arc.
If he continues this recent surge of strong offensive play, I support the Lakers putting him on the active regular season roster. He’d deserve it. But until that happens, the more likely move is that the Lakers will send him down to the D-League where he can get a good amount of quality playing time in close games. He has a lot of potential, and the Lakers should keep an eye on him. Who knows what could happen? Look at Earl Clark last season. Sometimes the biggest play-makers come from the areas from where you would least expect them.