John Henson is Showing Why He Deserved His Extension this Preseason

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In a preseason where many of the Milwaukee Bucks aren’t playing their best basketball, newly extended center John Henson is stepping up and proving he deserves his nearly $50 million new contract.

It’s important as always to remember this is just the preseason, but that still doesn’t make what Henson is doing thus far meaningless. He’s managed to shoot 66.7 percent from the field and is averaging eight points, five rebounds, 2.3 blocks, one assist and 0.7 steals per game in just 13 minutes per game.

That means his per 36 minutes numbers would come out to 22.2 points, 13.8 rebounds, 6.4 blocks, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Those are great numbers, and they actually get deflated a bit by the Pistons game, in which Henson only recorded two rebounds and an assist in eight minutes–he didn’t even take a shot that night.

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Taking out that game, Henson has 24 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks, two assists and two steals in just 31 minutes played, meaning his per 36 statistics come out more like 27.8 points, 15.1 rebounds, 8.1 blocks, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals per 36. Again, despite it being preseason right now those numbers are crazy good. Like if Henson could do that for an entire season he’d be the NBA’s best center good.

That kind of production can’t be expected to carry over into the regular season. His minutes have largely come against backups–preseason backups even, which means some players who won’t even end up on rosters–and even if it were the regular season, this is an incredibly small sample size.

Much like Stephen Curry said to his detractors earlier this week, it’s not as though Henson has a choice about who lines up opposite him. He’s just going out there and playing despite the competition or situation, which is a relief to see for Bucks fans anxious about paying him all that money.

Many players on the last season of their contract ball out that year and get paid, only to slack off and regress until their next contract year comes around. Henson is playing at an even higher level this preseason, and it seems his financial status isn’t going to affect his drive in any negative way.

It’s also important to note that having that kind of across the board affect on games isn’t anything new to Henson, if he gets enough playing time. Henson played between 20 and 29 minutes in 27 games last season, and although they’re not at the insanely productive level he’s managed in this preseason his per 36 minutes stats from those 27 games are certainly impressive.

Apr 8, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center John Henson (31) shoots during the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Henson played 630 minutes and totaled 261 points, 161 rebounds, 78 blocks, 33 assists and 15 steals in those games. Dividing 630 by 36 produces the number you can divide those stat totals by to find Henson’s per 36 minutes statistics–in this case, it’s 17.5.

That means that in games where he was able to get into the groove of things by playing between 20 and 30 minutes, Henson managed to average 14.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 1.9 assists and 0.9 steals per 36. For a backup center to average 15/9/4/2/1 per 36 minutes is really, really solid.

No NBA player has managed to average those numbers per 36 in the last two decades. The closest anyone has come was Tim Duncan in 2013, when he averaged 21/12/3/3/1 per 36. Obviously Duncan is the superior player, but not even he uniformly stuffs the stat sheet like Henson does.

Both so far in the preseason and even last year in the regular season, when Henson actually got substantial minutes he was really good at making his impact felt across all five major statistical categories. That’s why he’s worth a deal that could pay him nearly $50 million over four seasons. He’s not just a scorer, or a rebounder, or a shot-blocker–he can do it all, at least adequately.

Having a player that impacts each game both offensively and defensively like John Henson does helps a team immensely. Henson is versatile–he’ll do whatever he must do to help his team win. John Henson impacts games, whether it’s that signature hook shot, rebounding with his exceptionally long arms, dishing passes from the paint or being a defensive menace by racking up blocks and steals. That’s worth money–especially considering he’s just 24 years old.

Next: Q&A With Franchise Legend And Broadcaster Marques Johnson

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