According to Charles F. Gardner, John Henson returned to practice Monday and, barring any setbacks Tuesday or in shootaround Wednesday, sounds like he’ll be suiting up for the first time Wednesday.
Scott Skiles sounded both optimistic and realistic about Henson:
“His talent was evident today, and the fact he’s missed a bunch of time. But we have (practice) tomorrow and shootaround Wednesday, so he’s got some time to get back in the groove a little bit and figure out what we’re doing.”
Henson has missed the past three weeks after spraining his left knee in an October 16th preseason game with the Chicago Bulls.
The 14th overall pick looked strong in two exhibitions beforehand, averaging eight points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his first two games. In a four block effort against the Detroit Pistons in Milwaukee’s second game, his athleticism was breathtakingly evident on some of his blocked shots.
But three weeks is a miniature eternity for a rookie in the NBA. Henson now has to get his conditioning up to par while he attempts to reintegrate himself into all of the Bucks schemes on both sides of the ball. Skiles noted that Henson’s struggled with some aspects of what Milwaukee wants to do.
“He struggled a little bit (in camp) to pick up what we’re doing,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “His talent is obvious. All you have to do is watch him a few minutes in an exhibition game to see what type of upside he has.
Given the surprisingly strong start from Larry Sanders and typically steady play from Ekpe Udoh, it could be difficult for Henson to find minutes initially. But if ever there was a game where the Bucks needed more big men, it would probably be against the Memphis Grizzlies. Their powerful front line of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph has given the Bucks fits in the past and for all the good Sanders has done through two games, let’s not forget that he’s still averaging a career high 7.6 fouls per-36 minutes. In two games, Sanders has 11 fouls.
Despite his fouls, Sanders steady play and ability to cover ground earned him the lion’s share of the center minutes against the Cavs on Saturday. Samuel Dalembert struggled at the start of the second half defending the Kyrie Irving/Anderson Varejao pick and roll and was lifted almost immediately. Irving hurt the Bucks on the pick and roll all night.
“We did a nice job last night on Rondo, getting up and trapping him early,” Skiles said after the game Saturday. “That was in our game plan tonight, we just didn’t get it done very well. We kept dropping, dropping, dropping to the rim and he just kept penetrating in there. He’s tricky. It’s difficult for the big guys to get up there. They’re worried fi they come up too high, he’s going to beat them to the free throw line and go all the way to the basket. We didn’t do a very good job on our pick and roll defense tonight.”
Dalembert’s relative lack of quickness was exposed against Cleveland, but may be less of an issue against the Grizzlies’ burly bigs. But if he struggles in space again and Sanders can’t control his fouls, it’s possible some minutes could open up for Henson. Given the generally stellar play from the Bucks bigs over the past two games though, the most likely scenario may be that Henson gets his feet wet for a few minutes against Memphis or possibly later in the week when Milwaukee travels to Washington to take on the Wizards.