Why the Clippers Should Draft Xavier Henry (And Why They Shouldn't)

We’re three days away from the NBA Draft, so we’re going to countdown those days by looking at three of the players who could be available when the Clippers make the night’s eighth selection. This series will conclude Thursday with the player I feel the Clippers should choose with the pick.

The Clippers head into the draft with a rare sense of confidence, knowing that they’ll already have a supremely talented rookie on the floor next year in Blake Griffin, the power forward selected with the first overall pick in last year’s draft who then missed all of last season with a knee injury.

So the Clippers now have to look to complete their starting five and the only hole in that five is at the small forward position, with Baron Davis and Eric Gordon making up the back court and All-Star Chris Kaman playing alongside Griffin in the front court.

With that in mind, it’s important to note that the team currently does not have a head coach in place and with that absence comes an absence of a style the team will play. This makes it tough to say any one particular player will be a great fit for the team, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t some likely good fits. Any new coach is going to want to take advantage of the athleticism of the Clippers’ current starters and play an up-tempo style next year, particularly when Baron Davis is going to lead the charge.

So the team will be looking for a wing player who can run the floor, create their own shot and shoot open three-pointers. An ability to defend some of the more athletic small forwards in the Western Conference would be a plus, but let’s not get greedy.

Henry has all three of those attributes in spades.

Henry is a solid 6’6″, 220 pounds and is only 19, meaning there’s potential to add height and fill out his frame further. He’s going to be able to bang with some of the bigger threes even if that will come at the expense of his ability to guard guys out on the perimeter. He’s also got a 6’11” wingspan, which will help in defensive efforts.

He hit over 41% of his three-point attempts at Kansas last year, where he was usually the third option, behind Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins.

So why should the Clippers use the 8th pick to draft Henry?

Because he’s got tremendous upside at his young age, he’s shown an ability to contribute without being the focal point of an offense, he’s proven himself to be an accurate three-point shooter in his one year at Kansas and shown himself a competent passer and defender.

Why would the Clippers want to pass on Henry?

Because he isn’t the fastest three in the draft, particularly in the half-court set, he’s got the dreaded “tweener” label in that he’s a combo 2/3 more than he is a pure 2 or a pure 3, and he has yet to show an ability to put the ball on the floor and create his own shot or get to the rim while being guarded.

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Tags: Baron Davis Blake Griffin Chris Kaman Cole Aldrich Eric Gordon Los Angeles Clippers NBA Draft Sherron Collins Xavier Henry

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