Here is the level at which I am a Xavier Henry fangirl: one evening I drove up to Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco to cover a Legends game. The reason everyone thought I was going was to cover Jae Crowder, Shane Larkin and Bernard James playing a game in the D League. And I was!
But what really sealed the deal for me in deciding to attend that game was that Xavier Henry was playing a rehab assignment game with the D-Fenders:
I asked if I could just have this free agent profile be a picture of a heart, but I figured y'all might want some more words. So! I would like to see Xavier Henry play for the Mavericks. Let's see if I can make that make sense.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Let's start on a high note. Who can forget one of the standout dunks of the then-young NBA season?
If that seems like a one dunk wonder, in fact, Henry was a highly touted prospect out of college. Selected 12th overall by the Grizzlies in the 2010 draft, he was a standout shooter as part of the powerhouse 2009-10 Kansas team that included Thomas Robinson and the Morris twins. Henry shot 49.2 percent from the field and 41.8 percent from 3-point range at Kansas. I'm told by people who know these things that that is "stupid good."
Injury and frustration with his role on the Grizz struck early, however. He was able to briefly resurrect some of that college spark with the Lakers at the beginning of last season. Though forced to play out of position in more of a point guard role after the Neverending Laker Point Guard Injury Parade, he managed to dazzle the world yet again in a few games before becoming part of the Lakers' Neverending Injury Parade himself.
As a pro, Henry still seems to be finding his role. He hasn't seemed to find that shooting spark again save for a couple games here and there. He was already something of a "project," so his ceiling could be anything, as some of those early season games with the Lakers suggest. But he needs a coach that will work with him to find a role in which he can thrive. At only 23, there's still plenty of time.
As far as weaknesses, the glaring one is obviously his injury history. Hard to get good when you can't stay healthy. Silver Screen and Roll, in their review of his season, had this to say:
X[avier] showed his strong hands and ability to get a shot up through contact and not turn the ball over, but did seem to get his shots either blocked or tipped once it was out of his hands, a consequence of not creating enough space between himself and the big that he was challenging. He would often go right into a big man's chest in an effort to create space, but often it did not create enough, leading to these blocks or tips. Even his shots that did get through were not incredibly accurate, and finishing around the rim is an aspect of his game that he will need to work on a lot over the summer if he wants to become a more consistent contributor and stay in the league.
Fit with the Mavericks
Let's look at the small forwards the Mavericks currently have under contract: /waves to Jae Crowder
So it's a position of need, but does Henry fit? Well...Dallas needs wings, pure and simple. Even if Carter returns, he's an injury or a DNP-Old or a whatever away from being a non-factor. Same for Marion.
Still, at the moment I'm writing this, conventional wisdom has Carter returning (though he is getting quite a bit of interest from other teams) and Marion likely heading to South Beach, or at least, not back to Dallas. In either case, the Mavericks are certainly looking to fill those roles with established players, and the pursuit of Melo and Parsons could eventually make a Xavier-like player an afterthought.
But even so...if he comes at the right price, it's cheap insurance and a talented player working with a coach who knows how to maximize a player's talents. You'd also like to hope that the Mavericks' highly regarded training staff could help with his injury history. With Crowder being more of a defender and less of a proven shooter, perhaps Henry would serve as his ideal compliment on the second unit if he can get that shot back.
Some may say, why. I say, why not? At worst, he's a backup or third wing who ought to be inexpensive and would add some depth at a position of need for the Mavs. And at best? At best, they could have a young and potentially very special player on their hands. And oh, how we fans all yearn for young talent on this Mavs team.
The great Jonathan Abrams wrote about Henry's comeback with the Lakers earlier this season, when he was lighting the world on fire and before he began struggling with injury (again).
Silver Screen and Roll reviews Henry's season.