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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.



  • Jun 26, 20129:27 am
    by Tiko



  • Jun 26, 20129:40 am
    by Butterscotch


    PISTONS will regret passing on Austin Rivers.

    • Jun 26, 201210:04 am
      by Rodman4Life


      Are you a Duke fan?  What is so impressive about Rivers that he deserves to unseat one of our current guards at the expense of the frontcourt again?  And please don’t tell me you consider him a legitimate point guard at the NBA level.

    • Jun 26, 201212:47 pm
      by Pistons04


      Why? We need more D not offense…Stuckey and Knight can do everything Rivers can, then u have Gordon, Daye, Prince, Bynum, and Jerebko…..the offense is just fine we just need more D down low….

  • Jun 26, 201210:17 am
    by Marvin Jones


    I still believe that if you get the chance to get a legitimate center with athleticism and size, you get him because you’ll have something few other teams have. No more power forwards masquerading as centers and with Monroe as a large 4 and maybe Jerebko as a large 3, it would be an imposing frontline, 6’10, 7’1 and 6’10 and all of them move their feet very well. 

    • Jun 26, 20123:18 pm
      by rick


      Jerebko at the three is a complete joke, but you go ahead and play him there and see how much he gets abused. No thank you on that. Name me the threes he will be able to guard? It is best to keep him as a rotation player subbing between the four and three with the four being his main position. Id grab Jeff Green from Boston since he will be a free agent and play him at the three before I play Jerebko. Just does not have the type of foot speed required to keep up with Durants and James of the world. Maybe backup threes, but not against starters.

  • Jun 26, 201211:05 am
    by ryan


    If we pass on Terrence Jones (great all around talent), Meyers Leonard (good size and athletic ability, great potential) and Jeremy Lamb (very likely to be the best player available when we pick) in order to draft John “Late First Round” Henson I will be very disappointed.
    The reason is that I just don’t see his upside. If John Henson is really good what are we actually getting? It seems to me that we’re getting a perpetually undersized 4/5 that can’t hit his free throws. Maybe he’ll be good on the boards and block some shots but is he going to dominate in either category? I doubt it.

    If we take Terrence Jones and he hits we’re getting a two way power forward who can do almost everything. This is a guy who has a chance to be the most talented player on the floor some nights. He might not make it but the upside is worth the risk. I think the same thing is true for both Leonard and Lamb (the details obviously are different) and it just seems stupid to take a guy with such a low ceiling over any of these three.

  • Jun 26, 201212:50 pm
    by BIGMARV


    Thanks pat! for the DD on henson I needed to know more before we decide to pick on him and I like what I see

  • Jun 26, 20121:27 pm
    by Jodi Jezz


    No!!!! Don’t draft this bust!!!

  • Jun 26, 20121:41 pm
    by vic


    he’ll be a good player. I’d rather get a center for Greg Monroe’s sake – but Henson will be good. At worst case he’s an energy guy off the bench when we contend (after we pick up a center). At best case he’s Dennis Rodman 2.0.

  • Jun 26, 20122:13 pm
    by Tom Y.


    Hi, first of all, I don’t mean to be petty, but he’s just been measured at 6’10.5″, 216 pounds.

    I like Henson and think he’s actually more ready than many people think. Another guy who’s almost exactly the same size is Anthony Davis, who’s the consensus #1 pick who many people are already saying is going to be an all time great. I’m not saying Henson will be as good of course, but give him credit for playing well despite his lower weight. A couple of nice stats (apart from rebounding and blocking shots) are his very low TO and foul rates.

    I do want to pair Monroe with a true center, but Henson would be a nice fit too, and I’m a little worried about Leonard. Drummond would be best but with all the trade rumours, it sounds like we won’t have a shot at him after all.

    • Jun 26, 20123:12 pm
      by rick


      Thank You Tom, you seem to be realtively sane in your opinion. Everyone seems to think that Leonard is great because of his size. My take is if hes that good then why is he not in the top three picks? Because he has just as many question marks as Henson but people know more about Henson becaue of where he played and who he played with. Leonard was not even better than Cody Zeller in the Big Ten. Why would I take a project when I can aquire what we are currently lacking? Henson would get the same pub as Davis if they switched teams period. So it is more people thinking ro assuming we are not good on offense when it was clearly defense that held us back no matter what the stats say concerning a new coach and his defensive system. Someone on here said that Ibaka was overated and that a coach could teach defensive principles but I say you have to have guys who want to play defense first. Henson can be anywhere from Camby/Chandler/ or even Rodman 2.0. People forget Rodamn weighed 210 pds and was a warrior on the glass. I would be perfectly fine with a defender over someone who will take time to develop, when in fact the last two guys we drafted played immediately. Why should they have to wait for the young fella(Leonard) to get it?  Did Miami just win the the Title with any 7’0 footers? Teams like OKC and Miami will just small ball us to death. Leonard would make us vulnerable on defense and a plodding team. Need defense and athletcism and to those who think Detroit is a few years away you are probably more wrong than right but you all probably thought we woudlnt win we lost Grant Hill and you see how that turned out. NBA is all about who wants it and coaching. If the Pistons are hungry enough their is no reason to believe that they can become a contender. Its good to have faith and not be pessimistic. Its just basketball not rocket science.

  • Jun 26, 20129:02 pm
    by MarkS


    Ok, even though Henson is more NBA ready now  than Leonard its not like he’s going to step right in and play 30 mpg.  I highly doubt that Henson is going to be the difference between us making or missing the playoffs next season.  Henson will rebound and block shots.  I don’t care about his weight he will bring those skills to whatever team drafts him.   

    But if Dumars sees something in Leonard that leads him to believe that there is a good chance he ends up being a better player in a few years why wouldn’t he draft him?  It goes without saying that Leonard is not t a finished product.  He had 1 year of college bball where he played significant minutes in college while Henson had 3.  This matters because scouts think Henson is closer to his ceiling than Meyers is.  I dont get the Cody Zeller comment.  So Leonard is terrible because he wasnt better than a guy who will go top 3 next year and would probably go top 5 this year?  Zeller is a better prospect than any of the guys we will be able to draft at 9 but unfortunately hes going back to school so I dont understand your point.  Bottom line is if you are drafting Leonard at 9 it is not for what he has done but what you think he will do.  

    But thats the decision that Dumars has to make.  Anyway, I like both players.  We’ll see what direction he wants to go Thursday.

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