With the 14th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected John Henson.
A power forward out of North Carolina, Henson left college after his junior season. He is a two time ACC Defensive Player of the Year renowned for his shot-blocking. In three seasons at UNC, Henson blocked 278 shots. For comparison’s sake, premier shot blocker Larry Sanders blocked 277 shots in three seasons at Virginia Commonwealth.
The blocks alone invite a comparison between Henson and Sanders, but coming into the NBA, Henson is far more prepared than Sanders was. Henson was ranked as the fourth best player in this class by Scout.com coming into his freshman season, ahead of players like DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors. Oddly enough, the worst case scenario on DraftExpress for John Henson is Sanders. So if he completely bombs, he’d still be as good as Sanders according to DX.
If that’s the case, much worse could have been done.
So what does this all mean in the grand scheme of things? The Bucks are still heavy on power forwards with Sanders, Ekpe Udoh, Drew Gooden and Luc Mbah a Moute all naturally best at the four. And I haven’t even mentioned free agent Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee’s starting four last season. Given the front office’s historical indifference regarding the center position, it doesn’t seem a stretch to think the team may rely on this group to man the backup minutes at the center position as well.
Even so, Sanders may want to start legitimately worrying about his future with the Bucks. The team can probably find a way to keep Sanders around for another season or so, but given his general lack of development over his first two seasons, should we really be expecting him to take a big leap forward and grab hold to a rotation spot for years to come in Milwaukee? Doubtful. Now that he’s redundant, I’d be surprised if he’s with the team past next season, obviously depending on how Henson adjusts.
Defense was a primary problem for the Bucks last season, especially once Andrew Bogut was out of the lineup. The additions in the last two days of Samuel Dalembert and now Henson can’t hurt in this area. I would contest a full training camp and regular practices will be een more crucial for the Bucks as far as improving their defensive spacing and rotations goes.
Coach Scott Skiles said time after time last season that a lack of a full, hard training camp made it tough to pound in the necessary principles into last season’s team. The lack of practice time after some mid-season additions probably didn’t help as far as defensive cohesiveness goes either.
This pick didn’t necessarily look like one the Bucks made to plug a hole on defense or anything along those lines though. John Hammond’s always been about taking the best guy available and that’s what he did again. Among guys that could probably step in right away and contribute, Henson had the most upside. He has the pedigree and he has all the athletic tools anyone could ask for.
Add that up and this was probably a pretty easy choice for the Bucks.