Milwaukee Bucks: Rookie John Henson Has Been Quietly Impressive This Season

Joshua J VannucciniSenior Analyst IIIApril 11, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 17:  John Henson #31 of the Milwaukee Bucks attempts a shot over Markieff Morris #11 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 17, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks have had a fairly impressive season this year, clinching a playoff berth for the first time since 2010. The team has looked to be in a rebuilding process, but acquired guard Monta Ellis last season. While it was a great move to improve their backcourt, it put the Bucks in a state of flux about their future. 

In addition to adding Ellis to the roster, Milwaukee secured the services of Ersan Ilyasova. He showed a lot of promise last season, but remained relatively the same in terms of production this season. It may have something to do with the sudden emergence of Larry Sanders, who has made a name for himself alongside the likes of DeAndre Jordan and Serge Ibaka as athletic shot-blockers.

He is a little foul prone—3.3 fouls in 27.3 minutes per game—but remains a force on defense with 2.8 blocks a night. Sanders is filling his potential after being taken 15th in the 2010 draft, much like fellow teammate John Henson.

The former UNC big man was selected with the 14th pick in the 2012 draft, but has played just 11.8 minutes a night with the Bucks. Henson had a monstrous game on April 10, putting up 17 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks in 41 minutes.

Despite Henson being a rookie, numbers like that have been registered by few such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal and Dikembe Mutombo. 

While it was in a game against the Orlando Magic, it did come against their big frontline of Nikola Vucevic, Kyle O'Quinn and former Buck Tobias Harris. It wasn't a case of the Magic shooting poorly either, as Milwaukee allowed them to convert on 46.8 percent of their shots.

The Bucks secured 56 boards for the game; thus, Henson realistically snatched 44 percent of his team's rebounds. His performance isn't a total fluke either, although playing 41 minutes did play a substantial role.

Henson has played 15 or more minutes in just 21 games this season, but averages 9.7 points and 8.1 rebounds when he does. He also rejects 1.2 blocks, which not only mirrors his play at North Carolina but is a testament to his size and skill.

A 6'11", 220-lb frame helps Henson as a force defensively, in addition to his enormous 7'6" wingspan. He is a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year—winning it back to back in 2011 and 2012—and could certainly take home the NBA's version of the award at some point in the future.

Much like many NBA players, Henson has obvious talent that is buried under a plethora of more experienced big men. Whether it be Sanders, Ilyasova or Samuel Dalembert, Henson is too far down the depth chart to show what he is capable of.

He can have a major role with the Bucks as a sixth man behind Sanders—should his foul troubles continue—and play close to 20 minutes a game. Henson can contribute right away and will be a catalyst for Milwaukee. The timing of such is unforeseen at this time, but the Bucks shouldn't hold out too long to play Henson full-time.