Column: Evaluating John Jenkins long-term team outlook

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Atlanta Hawks guard John Jenkins is out for the season following lower-back surgery. Is it time to start seriously worrying about Jenkins going forward? What's the best case scenario? All that and more in this week's column.

Mike Scott has made the jump in year two of his NBA career that many felt former Vanderbilt Commodore John Jenkins would make. This is mainly due to Jenkins' back problems that have plagued him all season, which eventually led him to have season-ending surgery to try and get back to 100 percent. In the limited playing time Jenkins was seeing this season, it was evident his confidence was shaken and he just wasn't where he wanted to be physically. It's a tough situation for the second-year player, but it was probably for the better for him to elect to have surgery.

It's not all bad, though, as Jenkins is only 22-years-old. Last season as a rookie, Jenkins shot 38 percent from 3-point land, had an ORtg of 109 and a TS% of 58 percent. Jenkins was drafted by Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry because of how well he could score the basketball. That's why there was a lot of hype surrounding Jenkins' second-year in Atlanta playing in Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer's system. A healthy Jenkins' in this system playing alongside Kyle Korver for stretches could have been healthy.

Again, it's just one lost season. Sure, there is the possibility Jenkins' could be an injury-prone player, and lower-back problems this young are not really a great sign going forward. However, it's important for fans to understand what Jenkins' ceiling probably is -- a solid, rotational scorer. I've seen the Danny Green comparisons, and perhaps Jenkins can fill that 3-and-D role for the Hawks in the future. But for right now, DeMarre Carroll fills that role, and that's a good thing.

Prior to Jenkins undergoing season-ending surgery he was shooting 22 percent from 3-point land, carried a TS% of 46 percent and had an ORtg of 83. This season needs to be wiped from Jenkins' memory, perhaps with that device they use in Men In Black, because it's not an accurate representation of what Jenkins is and can be as a player going forward. Jenkins hit the rookie wall towards the end of last season and it carried over into this season with pesky injuries to go along with it.

Sure, Jenkins hasn't lit up the league in his first two seasons, but late first-round picks shouldn't be expected to. That also means Jenkins shouldn't be attacked because Scott's progress this season. Scott making this kind of jump in year two, is a good thing because it means the Hawks are successfully developing their young talent. Going back to the Green comparison, his first two years in the NBA were forgettable. So much so he only played in 28 games total. Then in year two in San Antonio in Gregg Popovich's scheme Green started getting consistent playing time. He started 32 games, shot 44 percent from 3-point land and became the 3-and-D role player the Spurs hoped he could be.

Could Jenkins make that same kind of jump in year three? It's certainly possible, but it largely depends on his body and how it holds up going forward. He'll probably never be a thirty-plus-minute player. However, if Jenkins gets back to 100 percent this offseason and becomes a twenty-minute player that plays defense, can shoot from 3-point land again, and is confident in his game again that would be huge for the team. It may take time for him to get there, but if it does, that's fine. Remember, he's just 22-years-old and time and history is on his side.

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