Can Ole Miss Phenom Marshall Henderson Carve Out A Successful NBA Career?

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterFebruary 3, 2013

Jan 19, 2013; Oxford, MS, USA; Ole Miss Rebels guard Marshall Henderson (22) celebrates after a three point shot against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tad Smith Coliseum. Mississippi defeated Arkansas 76-64. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Marshall Henderson is the newest name to dominate the national headlines, but few have discussed his NBA potential.

He's the SEC's leading scorer at 19.5 points per game and has Ole Miss ranked in the top 25.

I'm here to break down the transition process he'd have to make moving from one level to the next, and ultimately squash anyone's hopes of this being a Cinderella story.

Henderson will face some major challenges as an NBA prospect on both sides of the ball.


Offensive Transition Issues

Marshall Henderson is a shooting guard, period. He's not a combo guard or secondary ball-handler. He's got one possible position to occupy, and that's the off-ball slot.

Now think about the physical characteristics of an NBA shooting guard. They're usually the most complete athletes on the floor. Andre Iguodala, Joe Johnson, James Harden, O.J. Mayo—these are sizable men with all sorts of strength.

Marshall Henderson is severely undersized at 6'2'' and lacks the muscle and athleticism of your typical NBA 2-guard. Contact at the next level will not be welcomed.

He's also extremely one-dimensional. Henderson takes 14.6 shots per game, 10.9 of which come from behind the arc. He's shooting it at a 36.2 percent clip, but the specialists at the next level typically have a mark of at least 40 percent.



Wingspan is a key measurement for perimeter scorers. An extra inch could be the difference between an open look and a contested one. Since Henderson isn't an adept shot-creator off the dribble, he'll need every inch to get his shot off over bigger defenders.

According to Henderson, he only sports a 5'10'' wingspan, an awful number for an undersized scorer. To put that into perspective, Jimmer Fredette measured a 6'4.5'' wingspan at the NBA combine, and he's struggling to get clean releases off in the pros.

Now, I'm not sure if Henderson was just throwing a random number out there or if that's actually his measured wingspan, but anything even close could make things extremely difficult in the pros.  


Defensive Transition Issues

Henderson might be a high-energy defender at the college level, but energy doesn't always translate to success when defending in the pros.

With Henderson on the floor, opposing NBA coaches will immediately place a target above his head. Considering he has zero skills or instincts at the point-guard position, he'll be forced to guard opposing 2s who could eat him alive.

Henderson weighs 175 pounds. Most NBA shooting guards will have a good three inches and 20 to 30 pounds of muscle on him. And you can't just stick him on the point guard. For one, he's not laterally quick enough. And two, Henderson's backcourt mate, who will have to be a point guard, won't be qualified to guard opposing shooting guards either.


History suggests that 6'2'' jump-shooters just aren't cut out for the NBA. There's always the exception, but for every one that makes it there are usually hundreds that don't.

If you go down the NBA depth charts, you're unlikely to find a 2 with Henderson's limitations.

As strictly a shooting guard, Henderson lacks the size, length, athleticism, strength and shot-creating tools to be able to make the transition to the NBA.