John Henson Vs. The World (Of Front Court Players)


At this stage in the season, it’s pretty easy to separate the differing tiers of players in the NBA. While the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul sit on the top of the mountain of the NBA, a slew of talented NBA players are  fighting on a night-by-night basis in attempt to reach that plateau. As one of those athletes, Bucks sophomore forward John Henson has made a small stake as probably the best offensive-minded front-court player on this Milwaukee team. While that really doesn’t sound like the biggest compliment in the world (because it really isn’t) that shouldn’t take away the continued progress that Henson has made in his 2nd season in the NBA.

While Henson is currently on the mend with a knee injury that he suffered in late December, he still had a pretty solid stretch before the injury pushed him to the bench. To really get a grasp on how Henson has done during the short season, yours truly have made four separate charts consisting of frontcourt players who have been drafted in the top 15 since 2008. Since I’m mainly using advanced statistics to get a complex reading, I’ve broken the list down to players who are currently active (sorry Brook Lopez) and who have averaged 25+ minutes per game during the 2013-14 season which puts our controversial friend Larry Sanders to the backburner for the near future since he’s currently averaging around 23 MPG. Since we’re doing this piece in mid-January, I’m going to make this into a bi-weekly or monthly feature where I continue to update you on how Henson stacks up against some of the best front-court players in the league

Offensive Points Per Possession 

As we take a glance at John Henson’s offensive production compared to the rest of the bigs on this list, he basically stacks up there with the likes of Blake Griffin and Derrick Favors. Before I start comparing Henson to Blake Griffin, we have to talk about one of the main faults behind Offensive Points Per Possession (OPPP). Because of the fact that Henson has played around 7 less MPG and six less games than Griffin, the overall statistics might be a little skewed in favor of the Bucks big since Griffin has played a solid amount of possessions more than Henson.

With that said, Henson has been a pretty consistent and solid offensive piece for the Bucks which was really on display in the weeks leading up to his injury. In the month of December when Milwaukee handed Henson the keys to the frontcourt as he averaged 33.8 MPG in the month of December. While it’s a smaller sample size, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Henson averaged a pretty impressive 15.8 PPG and 10.1 RPG with a 56.3 TS% which is pretty solid for a front-court player.

Offensively speaking, Utah’s Derrick Favors is probably the closest equivalent to John Henson. By looking at the above shot charts and their near identical OPPP, you can clearly see the similarities between the two young up-and-coming forwards. As you’re about to see, those similarities don’t end on the offensive end.

Defensive Points Per Possession (DPPP)

Besides the notable exceptions of Enes Kanter (negative) and Anthony Davis (extremely positive), there really isn’t that big of a difference between the rest of the 16 players on the chart. To make things more precise, Henson is yet again close to the likes of Blake Griffin, Derrick Favors and Suns forward Markieff Morris. Besides Morris who’s been in a cold stretch since his hot start, joining the likes of Griffin and Favors is pretty respectable territory for Henson who has yet to reach his full potential as a defensive player. To separate these three talented players, let’s remember that Blake Griffin plays on the 6th best defensive team in the NBA (based on Defensive Efficiency) while Henson (21st) and Favors (30th)  play for two of the worst defensive squads in the NBA. As you can already tell from this piece, Henson and Favors are basically basketball player who happen to play for two separate teams but their defensive similarities really push them over the top.

As the Bucks look to decide what kind of team they are going forward, John Henson will probably be one of the biggest topics of interest. While Henson has made a pretty solid impact on the team during the 2013-14 season, the Bucks already have fellow front-court pieces Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova under long term deals. Is Henson worthy of a deal similar to Favors’ 4 year/$48 million dollar extension? Absolutely, but the organization needs to decide how to take care of that situation since it wouldn’t be the best idea to have three front-court pieces to pretty expensive long term deals when the rest of your team is an absolute mess.