NBA Draft: Bobcats take Duke’s Henderson at No. 12
By Mike Cranston
CHARLOTTE ó North Carolina’s most famous basketball star turned to archrival Duke in hopes of giving the Charlotte Bobcats the boost they need to reach the playoffs for the first time.
The Michael Jordan-led Bobcats selected shooting guard Gerald Henderson with the 12th pick in Thursday’s draft, putting aside that fierce college rivalry to give Charlotte an athletic, defensive specialist.
“It’s something about our blood that makes it very hard to choose a Duke player,” Jordan said, smiling. “But this is a business. … The thing that we saw in Henderson was he’s a very capable player who provides us with a lot of different opportunities.”
In Charlotte’s second draft teaming Jordan, and coach Larry Brown ó a fellow North Carolina alum ó the Bobcats filled a glaring need. The 6-foot-4 Henderson, who averaged 16.5 points a game as a junior last season, will start as Raja Bell’s backup.
Bell, who turns 33 before the start of next season, was plagued by injuries in the second half of last season and the Bobcats had no clear alternative after numerous in-season trades.
“He was injured quite a bit for us last year down the stretch. I think that really prohibited us from making that strong push for the playoffs,” Jordan said of Bell. “We felt like if we could secure that a little bit it would put us in a better position to try to finish off the season.”
In the second round, the Bobcats selected forward Derrick Brown of Xavier with the 40th pick. Charlotte also had the 54th selection, picking UAB’s Robert Vaden, who was traded to Oklahoma City.
The Bobcats went into the night weighing several options with their first-round pick, including moving down in the draft. Charlotte had targeted Henderson and fellow shooting guard Terrence Williams of Louisville, bringing in each player for two pre-draft workouts. Williams went to New Jersey with the 11th pick, clearing the way for Henderson.
Jordan acknowledged the choice was between those two players said if both were gone at No. 12, they would have entertained offers to give up the pick.
“We probably would have traded down,” Jordan said.
The son of former NBA player Gerald Henderson Sr., the former Duke star has been criticized for making just 33 percent of his 3-point shots in college. But Henderson provides the defensive intensity Brown craves.
“I think it’ll be a good situation for Gerald to learn from Raja and not have pressure on him right away,” Brown said.
While Henderson will probably have to wait to be a starter, he’s expecting no wait in catching plenty of grief for being an ex-Blue Devil playing for Jordan and Brown.
“They are my bosses now, so I’m going to have to put up with them,” Henderson said. “It’ll be fun. I know I’ll be getting all the Tar Heels stuff every day, which is very unfortunate.”
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