saved some of the best basketball of his career for the end of last season. In the NCAA tournament, Henderson carried Duke to the second round on a heroic full-court drive, and then almost brought his team back from the dead against West Virginia. Last season was a turning point for Henderson, who had a much-improved statistical year in which all of his numbers, production and efficiency alike, increased. Now that DeMarcus Nelson
has graduated, Henderson is going to be expected to build on his 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.1 spg, and 0.9 bpg averages and become a leading player for Duke.
Physically, there is very little holding Henderson back from taking the next step. Though he only possesses average size for an NBA shooting guard and could work on continuing to fill out, he is a freak athlete, possessing explosive leaping ability, speed in the open court, and very good lateral quickness on both ends of the floor. He appears to have some decent toughness as well, playing out the final two months of the season last year with a torn ligament in his shooting wrist.
Offensively, his wrist injury proved to be both a positive and negative. It further exposed his most significant weakness as his perimeter shooting ability. While it is nearly impossible to predict what his jump-shot will look like since surgery, it could very well look better than what he had before. Henderson shot the ball differently all season long, lacking any consistent shooting motion or release point. Balance is the key for him, making sure he takes his time and sets his feet before shooting. He has a good deal of potential to develop into a solid jump-shooter in the future, and next season wouldnt be a bad place to start.
Henderson does, however, show a steadily improving mid-range game. He isnt yet a player who is going to create his own shot consistently off of the dribble, but the instinct is clearly there and he is slowly becoming more comfortable shooting from inside of the arc. One area in which Henderson should improve so as to help his mid-range game is his ball-handling. While he is certainly more than adequate compared to most NCAA guards, already possessing a developing arsenal of body and ball fakes, and the athleticism to get to the rim almost whenever he pleases, if he wishes to continue to excel at the next level, he is going to have to become a much better ball-handler. He can create space for himself against college defenders, but he will have trouble scoring against NBA competition should he not improve his ability to change directions and speeds with the ball.
One area in which Henderson justifies the hype, however, is on defense. Simply put, compared to a majority of his peers, his defense is stellar. Relying on a combination of basketball IQ, size, length, strength, and athleticism, he has the ability to guard all three perimeter positions well at the collegiate level, and looks to have all the makings of a good perimeter defender at the next level as well. Maintaining constant energy and focus on both sides of the ball is going to be a significant issue next year considering his likely first-option status on offense and his elite defensive reputation. Assuming that he can find a nice balance, however, there is no doubt that Henderson could be one of the NCAAs top dual threats.
With all the positives and negatives in mind, Henderson showed a lot of flashes last year, enough to consider him a candidate for a breakout season. He will have to maintain his focus and aggressive play, however, if he wants to prove to scouts that he is deserving of the hype he received coming out of high school and a lottery pick.
There are few players in the country who will enter next season with as much to prove as him and there are even fewer with the opportunities that Henderson is afforded. After all, he is a great athlete with a significant amount of all-around talent who is inheriting a starring role for an elite program. The spotlight will be shining bright in Durham this season, and should Henderson take his game to the next level, this will likely be the last we see of him in the collegiate ranks.