Xavier Henry was one of three New Orleans Hornets players who logged significantly more minutes in 2011-12 than they did in their rookie seasons with a different NBA club. Although Greivis Vasquez and Al-Farouq Aminu converted their unexpected opportunity into a combined 47 starts, Henry came off the bench in each of his 45 appearances. After a few inconsistent stretches, the jury appears to still be out on Henrys future, making the summer of 2012 a crucial one for the swingman.
Speaking about Henry late in the regular season, Hornets head coach Monty Williams said Henrys upcoming offseason will be pivotal. The 21-year-old is expected to participate on New Orleans summer-league team in Las Vegas. He missed NBA Summer League in 2011 after his rookie year with Memphis, because the two-week circuit was canceled due to the leagues labor dispute.
Now with him getting consistent minutes, youre starting to see some of his game, Williams assessed. Hes not looking over his shoulder at (starting shooting guard) Marco (Belinelli) every time he makes a mistake. I think hes made a good progression. At the same time, Im not quite sure if hes where we want him to be. Hes (21) years old. I dont expect him to be there yet. More so than the games though these (late-season) games are important this summer is going to be important for him. Additional quotes we couldnt squeeze into Henrys season-recap article on Hornets.com:
On his play:
There are games when he comes out and his shot looks good. There are games where he rushes it. Thats a sign that the game hasnt slowed down as much (yet). In the last game I put him in the post, and he was pretty effective. He may have some more to his game than weve given him credit for. One area where I want him to get more consistent is the defensive end. More than anybody, hes allowed backdoor cuts. Thats something that you cant do in this league.
On his offensive game:
I switched up my pregame routine so I started doing one-dribble pull-ups, mid-range shots. Im strong, so I focus on getting to the basket or getting a good mid-range pull-up, more than standing out on the arc or trying to curl for a three. Once you establish that you are going to take it strong to the hole, they cant come up on you as much on the perimeter.
On brief D-League stint on March 18, after playing at New Jersey on March 17:
It was a tough couple days for me. It really made me realize how tough it can be, going from leaving somewhere at 4 in the morning, to playing that day, to leaving again at 4 in the morning to be back for (Hornets) practice, and not just a light practice. (Since then) Ive been attacking the basket a lot more, and a lot stronger.