Hendrix: Ideal pick ‘n roll finisher

2015-07-27T19:56:20+00:00 2015-07-27T19:56:20+00:00.

Lefteris Moutis

27/Jul/15 19:56

Eurohoops.net

After five seasons at the top level of the Euroleague, Richard Hendrix signed with Malaga so he can launch his career and take it as high as he jumps to block his opponents

By Lefteris Moutis/ moutis@eurohoops.net

After five seasons at the top level of the Euroleague, Richard Hendrix signed with Malaga so he can launch his career and take it as high as he jumps to block his opponents.

A real athlete

Richard Hendrix is one of the most athletic basketball players playing in Europe in recent years. And this is not by chance. When he was still at school he played five different sports (basketball, tennis, football, American football, baseball) so that he developed his skills in different areas in order to be good at everything. As he was. At some point he was called to choose which sport he would pursue and he chose basketball, because of his qualities, but also because of his father’s role as coach of the school’s team.

At the college of Alabama, Hendrix had excellent numbers and in his third year (with 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds) he decided to make the big step and register his name in the draft. He was picked at No49 from the Warriors in 2008, but he didn’t play any games in the NBA. After a season in the NBDL he was convinced that his future lied in Europe, where his kind of athletic qualities are rare.

The right and wrong career choices

Granada was the first team to invest in him and they were vindicated, as the team had the best season in their history and Hendrix emerged as a rising star of the Spanish league. Maccabi offered him the opportunity to compete at the highest European level and indeed in his first season in the Euroleague he reached the final of the tournament having the role of the backup big man. In the following year his role was upgraded and he did splendidly.

In the summer of 2012 however, he made the wrong choice. He signed with Milano for 1 million dollars a year, where he really didn’t make a good match with Sergio Scariolo and after a few months it was decided that it would be better to loan him out to Lokomotiv Kuban who had been interested in acquiring him a few months prior. Several teams where interested in getting him as a loan (among them Panathinaikos before they acquired Gist), but he ended up in Krasnodar because of Pasutin’s appreciation of him.

He joined the roster midway through the season, but he showed that he was what was missing from the Russians in order to comfortably win the Eurocup. In the summer of 2013, Hendrix, Milano and Kuban agreed for the player to become a free agent and sign a new three-year contract with Lokomotiv. In the first season he had his best year in the Euroleague with 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game making a unique duo with Derrick Brown.

Last season Kuban appeared to be one of the biggest favorites to win the Eurocup, but one bad night against UNICS destroyed the European dream. Hendrix was not as effective and it was preferred for him to become a free agent and continue his career somewhere else.

Undersized big man with technique

Joan Plaza chose him for Malaga so he can become a complementary player to Fran Vazquez’s, a player who is a full-sized bigman of the old cut. The Spanish team want to create a roster that will be able to respond under any circumstances and thus Hendrix is expected to add to the athleticism of the team.

He’s very fast and a good jumper, elements that he mostly expresses in the offensive part of his game. He’s known for his finishes after pick-and-roll situations, while he has sound technical training and is quite effective when he plays with his back against the basket as well. He also has mid-range scoring in his repertoire. He scores often after offensive rebounds, but in all other cases he waits for his teammates to facilitate for him.

Defensively he’s not strong enough, while he’s effective in defense away from the basket only when he has the necessary help from his teammates. He is, however, a good blocker and he can protect his team’s basket.

A choice of limited risk

The 29-year-old American can also play as a power forward with a heavy center on his side, like he did in Lokomotiv. And this is surely appreciated by Plaza who wants to have a chameleon team. In order for Hendrix to emerge even further he needs to work with an ideal pick-and-roll creator or to play in lineups that have players with many athletic qualities.

In any case, for Hendrix Malaga is the ideal opportunity for him skyrocket his value in the European market, while Malaga is also investing in one of the best mobile big men who can help raise the team’s level.