Aaron Henry might just be a player for the Philadelphia 76ers

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers‘ 31st game of the season, a 108-103 win over the Boston Celtics, is probably a game to forget.

The team entered the contest with only 10 healthy players, a makeshift bench comprised of deep reserves, and only one healthy point guard in Myles Powell, a 24-year-old Seton Hall product who just signed a two-way contract with the team the day before.

Ideal? Hardly, but hey, a win is a win, even if they don’t seem to matter all that much at this point, considering the sheer volume of players entering health and safety protocol seemingly every single day.

But hey, while I personally won’t be wearing out the tape on a contest where the bench scored one point in 47 combined minutes of action, it doesn’t mean there weren’t a few positive takeaways from the game. Seth Curry looked pretty good running the point, a look Doc Rivers should come back to once Tyrese Maxey returns as a change of pace, Joel Embiid dropped a 40-plus-one piece on a division rival, and Aaron Henry, in only five minutes of action, looked like a legit NBA defender.

At this point, I’ll take it.

Aaron Henry might be the Philadelphia 76ers’ next two-way success story.

When Aaron Henry’s name wasn’t called in the 2021 NBA Draft, it came as a bit of a surprise to hoop fans the world over.

Sure, no one expected the high school 3-star recruit to magically go in the Draft Lottery, but after improving his play with each season in East Lansing, many at least thought there was a strong possibility that the Michigan State Spartans product would at least latch on at the end of the second round. I mean, we’re talking about a player who averaged 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 32.5 minutes a night for Tom Izzo; I get his 3 point shooting averages were poor, but every team could surely use a 6-foot-6 BIG 10 All-Defensive team member on their roster, right?

Fortunately for the Philadelphia 76ers, the answer to that question was a resounding no.

Since turning in his green and white for red, white, and blue, Henry has appeared in two games for the Sixers with no starts. He was on the court for two largely inconsequential minutes on opening night versus the New Orleans Pelicans and got 4:30 of run versus the Boston Celtics 30 games later.

During the latter appearance, Henry subbed into the game with two minutes left to play in the first quarter in place of Matisse Thybulle and remained in the contest until the 10:21 mark in the second quarter, where he was, in turn, replaced by Matisse Thybulle. During that run, his only of the game, the rookie forward split his time between covering Romeo Langford and Jayson Tatum and recorded one rebound, one personal foul, and one deflection while attempting one shot, moving well off the ball, and providing some help defense for Charles Bassey in the painted area.

Factor in the hard work Henry has put in during his run in the G-League, where he’s averaging 12.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game – albeit on 32.6 3 point shooting – and Henry might just prove to be a valuable end-of-bench rotation player who can play situationally both in place of Danny Green and/or Thybulle or with all three on the court together in a super defensive look.

All in all, not too shabby for a player who didn’t even cost a second-round pick to acquire.

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Does Aaron Henry have a spot in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2021-22 rotation? No, at this point, he’s a one-way player and one who isn’t as good as many of his teammates. But could Henry become a player a few years down the line? If he continues to play like he did versus the Boston Celtics the next time he takes the court, which could be as soon as Thursday if the team doesn’t get good COVID news, he might just have a long-term home in the City of Brotherly Love.