Lakers Rumors: Xavier Henry Can Turn Career Around in Los Angeles

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIISeptember 4, 2013

February 1, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; New Orleans Hornets guard Xavier Henry (right) drives to the basket during the second half against the Denver Nuggets  at the Pepsi Center.  The Nuggets won 113-98.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Lakers have expressed interest in shooting guard Xavier Henry. Henry has spent three years in the NBA, playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans, failing to live up to the hype as a first-round draft pick.

After three tumultuous seasons, the Lakers can be the team that helps Henry turn his career around.

The Lakers have made a concerted effort to improve their athleticism during the 2013 NBA offseason. They've added players such as Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson and Nick Young, forming a significantly better second unit than they possessed in 2013.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles confirms that the Lakers are targeting Henry as a potential complementary piece and training camp invitee.

That last part is the key.

There's no guaranteeing that Henry makes it onto the main roster, nor should there be. He's underwhelmed during his first three years, and his commitment to the game has come into question due to his poor conditioning.

Should he make the cut, however, the Lakers are the perfect team to help him turn his career around.


Undeniable Upside

Henry was once a high school basketball star, ranking third behind Avery Bradley and Derrick Favors on the 2009 ESPN 100. Players behind him included John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, John Henson and Mason Plumlee, displaying just how much upside he possesses.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

For all of the talk of him being an NBA bust, Henry was spectacular during his freshman season with the Kansas Jayhawks. He averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals on 41.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc, earning a spot on the honorable mention All-Big 12 team.

After a second-round exit from the NCAA tournament, Henry decided to go pro.

Many questioned whether or not Henry was NBA-ready or not, and with good reason. He proved to be the real deal as a freshman, but there were holes in his game, such as his questionable ability to create his own shot and concerns about his conditioning.

Rather than honing his game, however, Henry decided to forgo his sophomore season and head to the NBA.

There's no question that Henry can shoot the lights out, displaying deep three-point range and a gorgeous release from his southpaw stance. What people did question, however, was whether or not he could do anything but shoot and crash the boards.

After three seasons in the NBA, he hasn't been able to. In Los Angeles, however, Henry would finally have a mentor who could help him develop those traits should he make the Lakers' main roster.


Kobe's Guidance

When it comes to Kobe Bryant, the Lakers legend has the reputation of a player whose leadership techniques are unconventional. Rather than nurturing players with care and caution, Bryant is an in-your-face player that tends to get under his teammates' skin.

Unconventional or not, Bryant is the perfect mentor for Henry.

During the first three seasons of his NBA career, the biggest problem for Henry has been his weight and conditioning. Few will debate that the young man can play, but coming into camp out of shape has limited his opportunities and hindered his ability to work the open court.

If Bryant's relationship with Lamar Odom has taught us anything—watch the video supplied above to learn about it—it's that he knows how to get his teammates to dedicate themselves to peak physical fitness.

If Bryant is able to get Henry to commit to his conditioning, we may see Henry live up to the potential set for him as the No. 12 pick in the 2010 NBA draft. At worst, Henry has the chance to become a quality sixth man, if his physical fitness matches his basketball ability.

For those who believe Henry will never live up to the hype, note that after three NBA seasons, he's still only 22. The story hasn't been written yet.

In Los Angeles, Henry would fit Mike D'Antoni's system as a spot-up three-point shooter that can space the floor for the Lakers big men to operate down low. Playing time would be scarce early, but with the proper focus and dedication, he'd be the perfect player to help round out L.A.'s bench.

Nothing is guaranteed, but Henry could turn his career around in Los Angeles.