Milwaukee Bucks: What kind of role will John Henson have next season?

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 09: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 09: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Considering the frontcourt additions the Milwaukee Bucks have made this offseason, veteran big man John Henson will very likely see a different role following his bounce back campaign last year.

Throughout his six years (and counting) with the Milwaukee Bucks, John Henson has bore witness to all that has surrounded the team both on and off the court.

The longest tenured player on the current roster, Henson was there when the franchise reached its nadir in the 2013-14 season to the gradual facelift the organization has experienced over the last few years, thanks to the superstar ascendance of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Much like the overall scope of the team throughout his stay, Henson has experienced his fair share of ups and downs during his career, the latter reaching its highest points in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. Henson’s consistency issues were remedied to some degree last season as he crafted a resurgent campaign on multiple fronts.

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Not only did the Tar Heel alum finish with his most featured year in terms of playing time (1,970 total minutes) and nods in the starting lineup (69 starts in 76 total appearances), but he also posted the highest net rating of regular rotation players throughout the year, per

Despite the starting role he carved out for what everyone would declare an underachieving season for the Bucks, Henson will face stiff competition for minutes in his first season playing under new head coach Mike Budenholzer.

The reasons for that are due to the Bucks deciding to revamp their frontcourt supporting cast around superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo with the veteran additions of Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez.

The signing of Lopez, in particular, will directly influence Henson’ playing time and role next season. Henson very notably spoke glowingly about the dynamic Lopez will bring to the Bucks in a Q&A with Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel during his time catching the Summer League Bucks in action in Las Vegas last month:

"“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m glad he’s on our team. He’s one of the tougher guys I’ve had to guard because of his sheer size. As a team, I think that’s a spot that we needed to shore up. With him coming on board with what he does as a shooter, he can rebound, he can play in the low post, it’s a tremendous addition for us. I can’t wait to get the gym and work with him and learn and get some knowledge from him.”"

In that same Q&A with Velazquez, Henson expressed similar excitement in reuniting with Ilyasova, who was his teammate for his first three seasons in the league.

Combine that with the small ball capabilities Coach Bud will look to deploy with both Ilyasova and Antetokounmpo potentially manning the 5-spot, Henson, or any of the Bucks’ incumbent centers for that matter, will have to endure some sacrifices in his playing time next season.

With that said, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for Henson to make his mark on the squad.

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, Henson’s defensive minded-nature and ability to protect the rim can be an asset to build around for any defensive scheme Budenholzer and his staff will look to put in place.

That may pave the way for Henson to take on a defensive specialist-type role as well as being used for situational purposes when the Bucks are looking to put the clamps down on that end of the floor during the course of a given game.

Of course, that all is much easier said than done and outside of the beginning of last season, Henson has taken his lumps when fighting for minutes and his spot in the team’s rotation under similar circumstances in the past.

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We’re far from seeing how the frontcourt depth chart gets sorted out under Coach Bud, but plenty is at stake for Henson to build on his last season and serve a useful role for what could be a resurgent year for the Bucks in general.