John Jenkins has been on the outside looking in for the Atlanta Hawks for most of the season and now we know why. Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer told the AJC prior to Saturday's game that the team wants to see defensive improvement from Jenkins.
"Defensively, we feel that is where we need to be better so we are talking to John about making that his focus also and that is a real priority," Budenholzer said. "Offensively, we are doing OK. That is probably John's strength. Right now, I think he needs to focus on that defensive end and make sure he is doing everything possible at that end of the court."
Jenkins has played in just six minutes this season while appearing in one game. He missed the majority of the preseason due to a back injury that he initially suffered over the summer. The Hawks picked up the third-year option on Jenkins' contract on October 31 so clearly the team still values him. However, right now it looks like he is squarely behind Dennis Schröder and Cartier Martin in the rotation.
Mike Budenholzer has essentially used a three-guard attack for most of the season. Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver are the starters with Schröder coming off the bench. Martin has also seen some time at the shooting guard spot in certain matchups. That situation won't get any better for Jenkins once Lou Williams returns from injury.
The AJC's Chris Vivlamore mentions the D-League as a potential option for Jenkins along with Jared Cunningham. It would be a solution to get them both some playing time but I'm not sure how much it can help with their development. The Hawks D-League affiliate again this season is the Bakersfield Jam who they share with four other NBA teams. That isn't exactly a great situation for a player's development. Both Jenkins and Cunningham spent some time in the D-League last season.