Greetings! As we get closer to tip-off, we’re continuing with our 2013-2014 player profile series. In case you missed our preview installments, check out our most recent look, when we profiled starting small forward DeMarre Carroll. Today, we turn our attention to 2nd-year shooting guard John Jenkins.
Before we get going on Jenkins, the overarching theme around him at the moment is an injury concern. Jenkins has been suffering from back spasms that have caused him to miss multiple preseason games, but thankfully, it appears as if he won’t be gone for long.
With that out of the way, Jenkins actually had a very nice (and, in my opinion, underrated) rookie season. The 22-year-old shooting guard shot 45/38/84 from the field, scored 14.9 points per 36 minutes, and was a better defender than most people (myself included) would have projected. That type of effort, along with a more diversified game, disproved his critics a bit, and he did show a bit of upside as more than just a shooter.
However, it wasn’t all positive for Jenkins. His defense still lacks considerably, as he has less than desirable height (listed at 6-foot-4) and athleticism for the shooting guard spot, and according to ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh, Jenkins posted the worst rate of stealing the basketball in the entire league. That fact in itself doesn’t make Jenkins a below-average defender (it’s largely inconsequential IMO), but coupled with everything else, it doesn’t really help.
Even with all of that, though, Jenkins posted a PER above 13 as a 21-year-old, sparingly used rookie, and that gives a good indication that he is already a useful player.
Role on the Roster
Jenkins’ role is an interesting one, especially when Lou Williams returns. All indications are that Mike Budenholzer is all set to deploy DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver as the team’s starting wings, leaving Jenkins relegated to a bench role. With Williams out, Jenkins would be the first call at the wing spot (with Korver shifting to the 3 if they played together), and he’s a significantly better option than Jared Cunningham or James Johnson/Cartier Martin.
When Williams returns, Coach Bud is going to have a tough time getting everyone minutes. If the team is fully healthy and he chooses to use Dennis Schröder as a pure backup point guard, Jenkins becomes the 4th-guard (at best) and the 5th option with Kyle Korver playing some 2-guard. The water is muddy for Jenkins, but it would be odd to see him take a step back in role this season.
Early in the year, I’d expect Jenkins to play in the 20-minute range per game, and while that number may be cut as the season progresses, injuries and a potential trade could open a role. As far as pure production, I think Jenkins will take a step up in aggressiveness offensively, and if he can keep his best defensive characteristic (the refusal to commit fouls) in tact, that will help him progress there as well.
Stay tuned for the next installment, and be sure to check out all of our Hawks coverage!