Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: John Henson


  • Measurables: 6-foot-11, 220 pounds, junior F/C from North Carolina
  • Key Stats: 13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game, 50 percent shooting
  • Projected: Lottery
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Henson, simply, seems like the best fit. Like all of the prospects available at nine, he has significant strengths and weaknesses, but his defense and, in particular, his shot-blocking fill Detroit’s two most glaring needs.


Since the lottery when we learned where the Pistons would be picking, Henson has felt like the front-runner for this pick and he’s done nothing to change that.

Pros for the Pistons

Henson has been discussed so much by Pistons fans, we pretty much already have a good feel for his strengths. He blocks shots, he boards, he’s a good all-around athlete and he’s the rim-protecting presence the Pistons need. He’s also a two-time defensive player of the year in the ACC and, although he has a slight build, he’s mobile enough to jump out and defend a pick and roll. All of those things mentioned were areas where Pistons not named Ben Wallace were deficient last season.

Henson also appears to have a strong work ethic. Two of the biggest knocks on him are that he lacks strength and he’s a poor free throw shooter, but he’s clearly improved in both of those areas in three years of college. Henson gained, according to some reports, as much as 37 pounds during his time at UNC. And though his 51 percent free throw shooting as a junior is nothing to brag about, he did improve from 43 to 47 to 51 percent in his three college seasons.

Cons for the Pistons

As Dan laid out in detail yesterday, Henson is essentially the ‘safe’ pick at nine. Most scouts are convinced he’ll be at the very least a solid NBA player, but probably doesn’t have All-Star caliber potential whereas guys like Meyers Leonard or Perry Jones might have higher bust potential but they also have extremely high ceilings. If the Pistons take Henson and then two or three years down the road, either Leonard or Jones has developed into star player, it will be another pick lamented by fans with the benefit of hindsight. That’s not to say Henson has no potential, because he does, but so much more is known about him because of his college track record than the others.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Henson is a tough player to peg. Henson is the hardest player to peg. He’s a freak athlete, is loooooooong, is a terrific shot blocker and has an emerging game on the offensive end. He plays hard, is unselfish and has put a lot of work into his game. However, he has a super thin frame and lacks a clear position at the next level. Most of the NBA scouts I’ve spoken with struggle to project him at the next level. Someone will likely take him in the late lottery based on his talent and production, but he’s not seen as a sure thing by scouts.


Henson’s combination of coordination, length, athleticism, hands, and ability to finish with finesse and power make him extremely dangerous operating on cuts and pick-and-rolls, both of which could be utilized even more effectively than they are now in the right system at the next level. Henson’s actually been used very sparingly on pick-and-rolls this season, especially going to the basket, and that may actually be his most potent offensive skill at the next level.



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