UNC in the NBA: John Henson playing well in extended minutes

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: John Henson
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: John Henson /

Milwaukee Bucks power forward John Henson thriving in starting role

Milwaukee Bucks power forward John Henson has often found himself in a backup role; an ancillary piece to a greater whole. Most recently, that could be seen when Henson came off the bench for incumbent front court starters Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greg Monroe.

Antetokounmpo, for one, won’t be challenged by anyone in the NBA for a starting position. The fourth-year power forward from Greece is one of the most productive and promising young players in the league and has future-MVP written all over him. And Monroe, the former Georgetown big man, has been a solid and serviceable big man for the better part of a decade.

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With Monroe out of the fold, though, having been sent to Phoenix in a deal that brought veteran point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Bucks, Henson is getting the opportunities he’d been missing out on.

The sixth-year player out of North Carolina is finally getting starter’s minutes, and he’s taking advantage of the boost in playing time.

Over the course of his last three games, Henson has scored in double-figures twice, something he did just once in the first ten games of the season. In that same span, he’s attempted no less than eight shots in a game. In the first ten games of the season, he attempted eight shots just once. In fact, he put up four or fewer shots in seven of those contests, and was limited to 18 minutes of game time on five occasions.

In his last three games, tilts against San Antonio, Los Angeles and Memphis, Henson has logged 32, 26 and 25 minutes, respectively. During that time, he’s averaging 11.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 blocks per game.

Those are pretty solid numbers for a guy averaging just 6.3 points and 6.5 rebounds on 22 minutes per game for the season.

Henson is a solid player and a difference-maker on the defensive end. He’s currently tied for 12th in the league in blocks, despite being 168th in minutes per game. His 6-foot-11-inch height and lengthy wingspan help him alter shots and force teams to take a different approach to attacking the Bucks’ interior.

On Monday night, Henson scored 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks, all while committing zero turnovers.

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He has had to compete for time with sophomore big man Thon Maker. But with games like Henson’s had recently, he should continue to get the nod for the starting role.