On September 5 the Los Angeles Lakers decided they would take a flier on the 22 year old former lottery pick Xavier Henry and signed him as an unrestricted free agent who was coming off a disappointing 2012 campaign with the New Orleans Pelicans. Henry only averaged 3.9 points as a Pelican last year and will look to improve upon that total this season as a scoring specialist off the bench for the Lakers. With Kobe Bryant still not ready to return to the court, Henry will see extra chances for minutes and will need to exploit those minutes to validate himself to the coaching staff as a viable member of the rotation.
Henry played in all eight preseason games and averaged 20.9 minutes a game. During those 20 minutes he averaged 11.9 points, .5 assists and 2.4 rebounds a game with the scoring average being largely inflated by a 29 point outburst in the opening exhibition game. This production is simply not going to cut it during the regular season as this Lakers bench is quite shallow and will need all the help it can get. The one positive takeaway from the exhibition games was Henry shooting 54.5 percent from behind the arc which is an area the Lakers lacked in last season.
Going into the season Henry will compete for minutes with Wes Johnson, Jodie Meeks and Kobe once he returns from injury giving him less and less minutes unless he quickly establishes himself as a legitimate scoring threat from the three point range. If he performs well enough he could easily earn some minutes in what will be an extremely fluid Lakers rotation throughout the beginning of the season.
The Lakers have a lot of kinks to work out this year and into the future as they rebuild a championship contending team. With Henry being such a young talent, even if he remains on the pine for a majority of this season he will surely improve with age making him a valuable bench player for years to come in the NBA.
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