StaTuesday: Bucks’ Henson among NBA shot-blocking royalty

John Henson of the Milwaukee Bucks is second in the NBA in shot blocking percentage at 8.3 percent.

Morry Gash/AP

John Henson had four blocks in the Milwaukee Bucks’ win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night, including one in the waning seconds to help preserve the victory.

Henson recording blocks should come as no surprise. The statistics show that he has become one of the premier shot blockers in the NBA.

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If you look at Henson’s per game statistics, his swatting abilities are obvious. In his rookie season of 2012-13, Henson averaged 1.8 blocks per game (despite just averaging 13.1 minutes per game). In 2103-14 he upped it to 2.3 and last season it was 4.0. After Monday’s four-block effort, Henson is averaging 1.5 blocks per game this season.

Again, that’s all well and good and those averages would place him among the leaders every season. But Henson plays limited minutes. As mentioned, he averaged just 13.1 minutes in his first year with the Bucks. He has averaged over 20 minutes per game just once — 26.5 minutes in 2013-14. This season he averages 15.6 minutes per game.

When we take that into account and judge Henson on his block percentage — defined by basketball-reference.com as an estimate of the percentage of opponent two-point field goal attempts blocked by the player while he was on the floor — we see just how elite a shot rejecter he is.

In his rookie campaign, Henson had a block percentage of 3.7 percent. He followed that up in 2013-14 with 5.1 percent, which was tied for 11th in the NBA with former Bucks center Andrew Bogut. It was Henson’s third year in which he made a big jump.

In the 2014-15 season, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis led the NBA in blocks (200) and blocks per game (2.9). Henson finished ninth (135) and fifth (2.0) in those categories. But he led the league in block percentage and had the highest rate since 2011-12.

2014-15 BLOCK PERCENTAGE LEADERS

Henson’s block numbers are down just a tad this season — 1.5 per game with an 8.3 block percentage. His blocks per game ranks him tied for 14th in the league. But because he plays fewer minutes than most, his impact is greater. Only one player — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, who leads the NBA with 4.5 blocks per game entering Tuesday’s games — has a better block percentage.

2015-16 BLOCK PERCENTAGE LEADERS

Henson’s production should come as no surprise. In college at North Carolina his block percentages were 9.61, 11.38 and 9.65. However, he never ranked higher than 18th in the nation in that category. He has taken his shot-blocking ability to a new level and is now among the NBA elite.

On defense, nothing seems to jazz up the fans more than a good (and timely) block. Based on the past few seasons and this year, Bucks fans will keep enjoying seeing Henson imprint Spalding on opponent’s foreheads for the foreseeable future.

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