2021 NBA Draft: 5 Most Undervalued Prospects

NBA Draft prospect Tre Mann (Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Draft prospect Tre Mann (Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Aaron Henry, F (Small Forward) Michigan State

2020-21 Stats: 15.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 45% FG, 29.6% 3PT, 20.0 PER

Age: 21

Height: 6’4.5″

Weight: 209.6 lbs

Wingspan: 6’10.75″

ESPN Ranking: 50

The Ringer Ranking: Unranked

My Ranking: 19

Henry in my opinion has gone from a first-round candidate to potentially being taken in the latter portion of the second round or maybe not even selected at all. I don’t really understand this given how I value his slashing potential as a scorer, what he can do as a passer, his great defensive capabilities, and his physical attributes. Henry has your prototypical NBA body and is a springier athlete than he gets credit for.

Whether it’s his near seven-foot wingspan at six-foot-five or his 5.6 body fat percentage at nearly 210 pounds, the physical tools are more than apparent for the 2021 Third Team All-Big Ten member.

There’s a lot of versatility to Henry’s offensive skillset, but it’s his finishing ability at the rim and slashing scoring potential that excites me the most about his pro outlook. He’s got the size and strength to just bully smaller guards or wings on drives, but also has the footwork to finish smoothly in the lane.

His handle needs polish but it’s surprisingly quick and Henry can create his own shot off the bounce at a fairly efficient rate. He’s also got an off-hand floater in his scoring bag and is an ambidextrous finisher, showing a good blend of power and touch when finishing shots at the rim.

Henry’s playmaking is an area of his game that I feel he’s just discovering his talents with and think he can be useful as a secondary playmaker within an NBA offense. He was eighth in assist percentage (25.2) in the Big Ten last season, flashing the ability to be a proficient passer.

Most of what he can do playmaking-wise comes in transition or out of post-ups, he has thrived in both settings so far. Henry could be a sneaky triple-double threat on the offensive end at the next level in my opinion, in big part because of his blossoming skills as a playmaker.

The defensive end of the floor though is where Henry shines the most and is his most translatable skill to the pro game. I believe Henry has the capability to defend four positions in the NBA and will be someone who can comfortably be put into switches. You’ll see in the clips below he defends UCLA guard Johnny Juzang, Duke forward Matthew Hurt and guard DJ Steward, and Michigan forward Franz Wagner with pretty good success.

He’s fundamentally sound with the wide base and stance he keeps defensively while showcasing a phenomenal ability to move laterally and shuffle his feet. Henry knows how to use his strength and length to be imposing on the ball defensively and he’s got an uncanny ability to utilize his defense to create offensive opportunities. He ranked 15th in defensive box plus/minus (3.4) and defensive win shares (1.5) last year in the Big Ten for his efforts as a defender. Henry’s two-way potential is what from my standpoint makes him a first-round talent.

Henry’s doubters seem to think his inconsistency as a shooter could end up being problematic for his pro potential. The numbers do support their worries too, Henry shot a career 33.3 percent from beyond the arc in his three seasons at Michigan State. His career true shooting percentage (53.1%) and effective field goal percentage (50.1%) aren’t stellar marks either. However, I’ve seen enough on film personally to have faith in his improvement and current ability as a shooter.

I think there are some mechanical tweaks Henry could make to his shot, primarily maybe elevating his release point to not be so in line with his vision. Overall though his mechanics and release appear to be pretty traditional or textbook to me.

He also really can shoot it off of the dribble and has a mid-range game to go to if his threes aren’t falling. Henry reminds me of former NBA player Tyreke Evans, except I think he can be a much better defender than Evans was. He’s a top twenty prospect for me in this 2021 class.