With Wesley Johnson sidelined with a foot injury that is being considered “day to day”, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ coaching squad got to take another long look at Xavier Henry on Tuesday night during the Lakers’ preseason win against the Denver Nuggets.
Henry has easily been one of the brightest shining players for a Lakers squad that is full of question marks coming into this NBA season. Although he had an off night shooting on Tuesday, going only 1-for-6 from the field, he still shot 5-of-6 from the line and put up seven points.
He’s shown an aptitude for getting into the lane and drawing fouls, then capitalizing upon the free points at the line. All of the extra practice and playing time he’s seeing with Johnson on the bench is clearly helpful.
Through three preseason games, Henry has shot a fairly impressive 14-of-28 from the field while going 21-of-28 from the free throw line. He’s continued to show his scorer’s touch that hasn’t been seen since his days at Kentucky, and if he can get his rebounds back up towards the seven he had opening night of the Lakers preseason, he should be considered a lock to make this team’s final squad.
The Lakers are old and getting older, and although they have the bank account to build the team they would like, coming into the 2014 season young, able-bodied talents like Henry are always a bright spot for any rebuilding team.
As for Johnson, the longer this injury lingers and the closer to returning Kobe Bryant gets, the less room there is for a player of Johnson’s middling talent. The good news for him is that his 6-foot-7 frame should secure his roster spot as a backup at either of the forward spots because Henry should clearly be taking his shooting guard minutes.