In his three-year career at Duke, Gerald Henderson Jr. had gotten plenty of shine during big games. Last night at Madison Square Garden was not one of them. The Bobcats’ lottery pick (12th overall) in last June’s draft, has played sparingly so far in his rookie season. The zero minutes he logged last night against the Knicks marked Henderson’s fourth straight DNP-CD (did not play – coach’s decision).
For the season, Gerald has appeared in 21 games and is averaging just 3.2 ppg and 1 rpg in 8.9 mpg. Minutes have been hard to come by for Henderson in his inaugural season, as he is playing behind Stephen Jackson, Ronald Murray and Stephen Graham. I caught up with the super athletic 6-5 guard, who is the son of former NBA player Gerald Henderson Sr., before the Knicks/Bobcats game at MSG last night.
Dime: How happy were you to be drafted by a team that plays in the same state your college?
Gerald Henderson: It’s great. It’s a place I’m familiar with. There’s a lot of Duke fans, probably not as much UNC fans. (laughs) But it’s just an environment that I’m used to. I love being in the south, it’s a good thing.
Dime: You have always been the man on the teams you’ve played for. How tough has not playing been for you this season?
GH: It’s pretty difficult. You watch everyone on your team play and you feel you can go out there and help. But it’s just the way things are right now. My position, I just have to come out everyday and work on my game, try to figure out this game -the NBA game is a little bit different from college. So, I just want to get better everyday and hopefully when my opportunity comes, I’ll be ready.
Dime: When you do get on the court, how is the transition from starting to coming into the game in short spurts?
GH: When I come in, I just try to play hard, I don’t really try to think too much. I just try to help the guys out who are out there with me and rebound, defend and be aggressive on the offensive end and find my teammates. I don’t think coming off the bench really messes up my rhythm or anything. You would think so, but when I come into the game I don’t think about that because I can’t. I have to think about how I can be productive. So, I just try to help the guys out as much as I can.
Dime: What kind of advice has Coach Brown told you?
GH: He just tells me to keep working everyday. It’s tough with the makeup of our team for me to get a lot of minutes right now. He feels like I can become really good and I believe that too, so I’m just going to keep working at it.
Dime: What about Coach K? Have you spoken to him recently and has he offered any advice?
GH: You know, I haven’t talked to coach in a little bit. I’ve talked to coach Collins today, one of his assistants, and they had a good win last night. So I try to stay in touch with those guys as much as I can.
Dime: You’ve played for two of the best coaches of our time in Larry Brown and Coach K. How are they different?
GH: You know they’re very similar in ways. They demand a lot from their players and they really care about them getting better and how they’re playing and stuff like that. They have really good basketball minds, which is something that really helps me out because I want to learn a lot about this game and keep improving.
Dime: Everybody knows about your hops. Would you compete in the dunk contest this year or in the future?
GH: (laughs) Yeah, it would be something cool to do. You know there’s a lot of guys out there who can dunk. I don’t know, I’d have to think of some stuff to do first.
Dime:You’ve had some amazing dunks at Duke, like that monster slam against Maryland. Is that your best dunk ever?
(Flip Murray who is sitting in the locker beside Henderson interupts)
FM: I’m gonna say yeah…I’m definitely gonna say yeah. That’s the one he’s got on his phone.
GH: (laughs) I’ve had a couple of good dunks in my career, but that was definitely my best one.
Dime: With UNC alum Raymond Felton on the team, do you guys talk trash to each other often?
GH: (laughs) All the time man. I was getting on him the other day, when they lost to College of Charleston. But it will heat up soon, once we get deeper in the ACC season and the tournament, so I know we’ll get in it pretty soon.