Coming off his strongest outing since returning from his knee injury, Xavier Henry once again displayed his vast range of skills in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Henry dropped 24 points off the bench, earning himself increased minutes for the remainder of the season. Consistency has been an issue all season though, especially when he has been subject to several knee injuries throughout the year.
Entering the 2010 NBA draft as a one-and-done from the University of Kansas, Henry was projected to be selected in the first round. The Memphis Grizzlies regrettably drafted him with the 12th pick, and later sent him to the New Orleans Hornets in a deal centered around big man, Marreese Speights. New Orleans had high hopes for the still young Henry, however a guard-heavy team caused him to be buried in the lineup, once again.
Finally, last summer Henry was able to decide for himself which situation would be the most beneficial for his career moving forward. Unfortunately, there was not a large market out there for him as he was already being labelled a bust. Then came along the Los Angeles Lakers who did not expect him to make the major impact that he has thus far. He was signed as a part of the practice/preseason squad but ultimately ended up inking a deal lasting for the entirety of the 2013-14 season.
Numerous injuries paved the way for Henry to eventually find himself in the starting lineup, steadily improving as the season has progressed. In no way am I suggesting that he is a legitimate starter in the league, except for occasionally filling in for somebody else. On the contrary, I do see Xavier Henry sticking around the NBA for many years to come. His explosiveness and ability to defend his position pretty well will certainly attract a multitude of suitors in the summer. As a result, this will put the ball in Los Angeles’ court, forcing them to decide on whether he is worth bringing back for the long term.
One major pro to re-signing Henry is that he will not demand a luxurious contract. General manager, Mitch Kupchak has stated his desire to create flexibility in order to position themselves to make a run at one of the marquee free agents in the future. Additionally, we cannot overlook the fact that Xavier is merely 23 years old. Such a young player that has demonstrated a wide range of improvement is certainly very intriguing. Throw in a quality coaching staff and the security of a contract extension, Henry has tremendous potential. Therefore, passing on him would be a monumental mistake for both Henry and the Lakers. Bench scoring and youth have been long lasting issues, so re-signing Henry is the ideal situation for both parties.