Latest posts by Sam Amico (see all)
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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — He has become the Cavaliers’ secret weapon. At least, as much of a secret weapon as someone who stands 6-foot-11 and is all arms and legs can become.
His name is John Henson and a lot of people don’t know this, but he is a center/power forward for the Cavs.
So what’s the big mystery?
Well, Henson was traded to the Cavs from the Milwaukee Bucks in December. He was acquired along with point guard Matthew Dellavedova, a fan favorite from the 2016 championship season.
Most people only knew Dellavedova was returning. Only the absolute die-hards had heard of Henson.
Throw in the fact Henson was injured at the time of the trade and … well, even he admitted he was sort of a forgotten man. He missed the entire season with a torn ligament in his wrist, suffered in November. He has yet to suit up for the Cavs.
But that is all about to change.
Henson is back at practice. He caught some alley-oops from Dellavedeova in a scrimmage on the first day of camp, looking nimble and throwing down some dunks. He used his length to protect the basket.
He made a difference.
“He’s very different from the other bigs,” new coach John Beilein said. “When we watched him playing in pickup, he changes a lot of things for us. We need that very badly.”
Henson, 28, is entering his seventh season. He can best be described as an energy player with length and athleticism. He averaged 8.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 2017-18, his last full season before the wrist injury. (He appeared in just the first 14 games last year.)
He is a team-first guy who can almost always be found wearing a smile and displaying a positive approach.
“It’s a blessing,” Henson said of returning to practice as a full-time, healthy contributor. “I’m happy to be running up and down (the court), getting to hang and play with the team.”
Henson’s role will likely be as a defense-first presence off the bench behind Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. When it comes to blocking and altering shots, Henson will be the Cavs’ biggest threat. He averages 1.5 blocked shots for his career.
“I think that’s one of the strengths I bring to the table — rim protection,” Henson said.
Love has particularly been impressed.
“We’re happy to have John,” Love said. “He really looked great. He was on Delly’s team. On the defensive end he’s blocking shots, he’s super long, making it tough for all the guys in there. I think he’s going to be a fan favorite.”
Fans, his teammates, the coaching staff, general manager Koby Altman. Henson may not be known among many others, but it’s a safe bet he won’t be a 6-11 mystery man for long.
“(Opponents) can draw up all kinds of great action and one shot block just deflates them,” Beilein said. “He’s going to bring that to us.”