Last week, Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson hit four 3-pointers in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That was as many as Henderson made in his entire rookie season. He made a total of 22 in his first three seasons.
But Henderson is nothing if not adaptive. Hes already played for three NBA head coaches and the most recent, Mike Dunlap, told Henderson either hed become a 3-point shooter or he wouldnt play.
Now hes made 17-of-33 3-pointers (52 percent) in his first 20 games with Dunlap.
He was a stickler about (shooting) that long 2 he hated it, Henderson said of Dunlap. So you find yourself either shooting that 15-footer or migrating out beyond the 3-point line.
Henderson spent all last summer taking 3-pointers. He arrived from Duke in 2009 as a guy with great athletic ability and shooting range out to maybe 20 feet. He has tried to make himself fit Dunlaps description of a shooting guard.
Id never shot enough of them in a game to make me comfortable that theyd go in, Henderson said. When coach (Dunlap) got here, he told me making 3s was something Id have to do if I wanted to play. Theyre going to be open because we have guys who can penetrate and draw attention.
Hendersons leadership skills impressed Dunlap sufficiently that he was named a co-captain, along with the since-departed Matt Carroll, in the preseason. In the first half of this season, Henderson has been a starter, a reserve and the injured guy rooting for teammates. Right how hes playing with the second unit, with rookie Jeff Taylor starting at shooting guard.
In July, Henderson becomes a restricted free agent at the end of his rookie-scale contract as a former first-round pick. The Bobcats must decide whether hes in their long-range plans.
Henderson has given every indication he wants to be here. His skill set is wide enough that he believes he contributes in a wide variety of ways.
And he doesnt sound threatened when his playing time fluctuates. He didnt start against the Detroit Pistons Sunday, limiting his playing time to 22 minutes. He played 24 minutes off the bench Wednesday against the Utah Jazz.
We have a lot of guard scorers, Henderson said. If we feel like we can get Ben Gordon going off, were going to give it to him every play. And (Ramon) Sessions is going to attack.
Sometimes my role in certain lineups will be to get them the ball to drive-and-kick. Or to rebound, to focus on other things than just trying to score all the time. Thats all part of trying to be a winning basketball team. I understand that. I feel comfortable about that.
Dunlap appreciates what he calls Hendersons diverse skill set. At times hes moved over to small forward, and in the preseason even an occasional stint at power forward.
Hes got a back-to-the basket game along the baseline, a 15-foot kill-spot game, and then the other night he hits four 3s, Dunlap noted. So, yeah, hes diverse.
Or as Henderson might describe it, adaptive to others needs.
I feel like there are a lot of different things I can bring to our team. Its funny, when I started playing here, for coach (Larry) Brown, the only thing I was thinking was defense. Since then Ive played the 2, the 3 and even the 4. I feel like I handled it all well.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell
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