The 2020-21 regular season is in the books for the Trail Blazers and the 2021 NBA Draft is only a day away. For the first time since 2016, the Blazers are set to enter draft night without a selection. However, that doesn’t mean that President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey will sit on the sidelines during the process.
Our final profile in the 2021 series looks at Michigan State forward Aaron Henry. His blend of upside and defensive tenacity make him an intriguing second-round option.
- Height: 6’6”
- WT: 210
- Wingspan: 6’11”
- Shooting Hand: Left
- Position: SF
- Age: 21
- Projected draft range: 40-60
- PTS: 15.4 | Per 40: 18.9
- REB: 5.6 | Per 40: 6.9
- AST: 3.6 | Per 40: 4.4
- STL: 1.3 | Per 40: 1.6
- BLK: 1.3 | Per 40: 1.6
- FG%: 44.9
- 3P%: 29.6
- FT%: 76.2
Henry thrived in multiple roles over the course of his three-year stint with the Spartans. He is an active and aggressive defender. Utilizing his long frame and lateral quickness, Henry is a disrupter in one-on-one matchups and team-based schemes. He effortlessly blends opportunistic risks with disciplined defense, often during the same possession. In terms of his versatility, Henry has the tools to guard multiple positions at the next level.
Offensively, Henry has solid burst when moving downhill. He can launch off either leg when finishing above the rim. His quick decision making and downhill speed should translate to a role as a baseline operator in half-court sets. Outside of his own scoring, Henry operated as a primary initiator for extended stretches last season.
Like several other prospects in Henry’s projected draft range, outside shooting is an issue. Henry’s three-point percentage dipped below 30 last season. This was not due to an increase in year-over-year volume, either. Inside the arc, he has tendency to rely on straight-line dribble moves that could result in an abundance of charge calls in the NBA. Henry’s penchant for midrange shots presents a separate issue on the offensive end of the floor.
In terms of upside, Henry was a three-star recruit that ascended to a feature role at a big-time program. He will enter next season at 22 years old, so it is possible that he has approached his ceiling as a prospect.
Henry’s offensive efficiency took a step back during his final season at Michigan State, but his defensive production popped. His versatility and intensity on defense earned him a top spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive team. In the NCAA Tournament, Henry recorded 16 points in an 86-80 overtime loss to UCLA.
Henry’s profile is an enticing blend of athleticism and proficient defense. At small forward, his skills also align with a position of need for most NBA teams. He has serious questions to answer on the offensive end, though. His downhill burst will lose some of its effectiveness at the next level. In half-court sets, opposing defenses will dare Henry to shoot from distance. In the end, his versatility and commitment to defense make him prospect worth monitoring as Thursday’s festivities play out.
If the Blazers are looking to add athletic forwards that play defense, Henry is a logical and cost-efficient choice. There is an obvious learning curve for rookie perimeter defenders, but Henry has thrived in roles that vary in size. His lack of shooting does present a problem. The Blazers would sacrifice floor spacing for defense with Henry on the floor, but that is a balance that Portland must tinker with going forward. Ideally, Henry slips into a range where the Blazers can affordably pounce.