Full disclosure: Before this year, I do not think that I can really recall watching Xavier Henry play a second of basketball. I had heard of him vaguely, I knew that he was considered injury prone, but after not watching very much of the preseason, I had no idea what to expect when he checked in on opening night. Then this happened:
In case you cannot see that very well or simply do not remember, that was X's shot chart on opening night, when he announced himself to Lakers fans with a scorching 22 points on 8/13 shooting including 3/4 3's, to go with 6 rebounds for a +15 in his 26 minutes off the bench. I may or may not have had a friend text me that "Xavier is our next franchise player now once Kobe retires". The victory on this night was one of the few genuine feel good moments in this debacle of a season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Sadly (or happily if you were always on the tank train), Henry was unable to maintain this level of play throughout the season.
That type of production should never have been anyone's expectation for Henry though, and certainly was not what the front office was expecting. However, Henry was still able to have himself a nice year when he was able to stay healthy, improving on many of his career statistical norms, and surely buying himself at least one more chance in the league.
After re-watching more Xavier Henry possessions than is healthy for any non-scout or GM to watch, a couple things became burned into my memory:
- He has phenomenal athletic ability, a breathtaking ability to get to the rim, and looks straight out of central casting for an NBA player.
- Frustrating inability to finish consistently once he got to the rim