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College, NBA Draft / Jun 22, 2010 / 10:00 am

NBA Draft: Xavier Henry is the next Joe Johnson

Xavier Henry at Kansas

DIME’S NBA DRAFT PREVIEW

Players, coaches, scouts and writers … ask any of them who have encountered Joe Johnson up-close and they’ll tell you the same: Joe is every bit his listed 6-7, 240 pounds. Maybe bigger.

Now meet Xavier Henry. A Top-10 prospect who left Kansas after his freshman season, he’s listed at 6-6, 220, and may be even bigger. And at just 19 years old, he’s not done growing. But measurements aren’t the only thing Henry has in common with his NBA doppelganger.

Joe Johnson didn’t put up numbers in college that advertised he’d be a future All-Star. In his sophomore year at Arkansas he averaged 14.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals. At Kansas, Henry was good for 13.4 points, 4.4 boards, 1.5 dimes and 1.5 steals a night at the two-guard spot. Were you expecting more from an All-Everything high schooler who was the prize in a recruiting war between the Jayhawks, Kentucky and Memphis? Consider that Henry played next to a pair of star upperclassmen — point guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich — on a deep KU squad where four guys averaged double-figure scoring.

So why is he a Lottery pick? Because in the NBA Draft, talent always supersedes stats. Henry needs to work on his handle in order to be a true three-position threat like Johnson, but his lefty shooting stroke is good from NBA three range, and he can make a living muscling defenders to create space for mid-range J’s and floaters. Beyond the pro-ready frame, he’s got pro-ready game.

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  • kwright

    I think he will be too

  • Ekstor

    Given the massive slide in the people’s perception of Joe Johnson as a true star… I’m not sure this is the comparison that Xavier would want.

  • Warriorsworld

    No. Way. Draft prospects get so overrated this time of year…

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    So he’ll disappear in the playoffs too? That sucks for whoever drafts him.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    Didn’t they say the same thing about Rashad McCants?

  • KWAME

    xavier cant handle like joe johnson

  • K Dizzle

    Joe Johnson could play the 1, 2 and 3 spots fluidly. I look at Henry and see more of another Kansas dude, Paul Pierce. Not crazy athletically, but can get to his spot with power and score “old man” buckets all day

  • SlimeBucket

    Joe Johnson is 28 now. He is starting to lose his athleticism. Earlier in his career he could take people off the dribble. Now you see iso Joe when he dribbles between the legs and launches a contested jumper. :( But Joe was nice when he was younger so Xavier being compared to Joe Johnson is not a bad thing. Please Hawks don’t resign Joe.

  • Lets Go Hawks

    I would take Henry over JJ right now (not based on talent). Joe priced himself out of Atlanta. Thanks goodness