The Milwaukee Bucks, who have just four wins over their first 20 games of the 2013-14 NBA season, have the worst record in the Eastern Conference currently and the second-worst record in the entire league, sitting ahead of only the atrocious Utah Jazz. Though I wasn’t high on the Bucks to begin with, they haven’t been aided at all by the numerous injuries throughout their roster.
As of right now, the Bucks’ first two centers on the depth chart in Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia are out with injuries, as are two of their bigger scoring threats in veteran forward Caron Butler and lightning-in-a-bottle personified in Gary Neal. With injuries to players that play as big a part in Milwaukee’s system, it’s no wonder they’ve struggled as mightily as they have.
However, one of the things that the injuries have opened the door for is more playing time for young players, second-year big man John Henson in particular. While Henson has seen relatively consistent minutes all year, he’s seen his workload increase in recent weeks and he has delivered when given the opportunity.
In four games through December thus far, Henson is averaging 15 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocks in 34.3 minutes per game while shooting a steady 53.2 percent from the field. Henson has shown growth this season as an offensive big man in this league, as well as continuing to impress as a young defender with elite shot-blocking ability.
While there is still room for Henson to improve as an offensive player and as a free throw shooter, you have to be impressed at how well he’s performing in only his second season. Moreover, Bucks fans have to be salivating at the thought of a Henson and Sanders frontcourt for the future. Sure, that frontcourt necessitates some offensively talented guards and wings, but having two big men of that caliber for the future is a promising notion. While Sanders still has a lot left to prove after signing his extension, Henson is already well on his way to proving himself this year.