2014 Hawks Player Review: John Jenkins

Scott Halleran

Peachtree Hoops is doing a player-by-player review of the 2013-14 Atlanta Hawks and the series continues with shooting guard John Jenkins.

Do you remember John Jenkins? Obviously, we remember the 2012 1st-round pick, but because Jenkins missed nearly the entire 2013-2014 season with injury, this is an interesting evaluation. The 23-year-old shooting guard appeared in only 12 games this season as a result of various back issues, and he really struggled while on the floor.

In looking at his numbers, it is quite important to remember that the sample size is very small, but at the same time, the results were a bit ugly. Jenkins shot just 38% from the field and 22% (4-for-18) from three-point distance in his limited time, and while the three-point shooting is slightly concerning given that it represents his top asset, his shooting elsewhere is actually more troubling.

Jenkins was certainly limited by the back issues all season (even when he was playing), but he converted only 8 of 18 opportunities in the restricted area. He will likely never be a player who thrives in penetration and finishing at the rim, but that level of production would represent a far below average rate, and one that is well below his established rate of 58% in the previous season.

The biggest issue with John Jenkins resides in the fact that he has one "elite" NBA skill (shooting the basketball), but that the surrounding factors in his game don't make it easy for him to utilize that trait. At 6-foot-4 (where he is generously listed), he doesn't present even average size at the shooting guard spot, and as a below average athlete, shot creation isn't easy to come by. Throw in the fact that he isn't necessarily adept at creating his own offense at this level, and there is a recipe for trouble there.

Defensively, Jenkins is below average, and that is probably being kind. I don't believe that effort is an issue, but the aforementioned athleticism limitations make it difficult to cover big-time shooting guards, and he can't be hidden on point guards because he lack of lateral quickness. Young players often develop very quickly on the defensive end once they figure out NBA-level schemes, but because Jenkins has battled injury issues, he has only appeared in 74 games over two seasons and that won't do him any favors on the learning curve.

Moving forward, the Hawks are in an interesting position at the shooting guard spot. Many people (myself included) thought that Jenkins would be in line for a playing time boost before the 2013-2014 season, but everything went wrong, and Mike Budenholzer adapted with some interesting lineup choices. Heading into next season, Atlanta has only Kyle Korver (who can play both the 2 and 3 spots) and Lou Williams under contract at shooting guard in addition to Jenkins, but with Shelvin Mack as a restricted free agent and with Bud's willingness to play two small guards together, there isn't necessarily a direct route to playing time.

Much of Jenkins' fate could be highlighted by what happens in the off-season, but at this stage, the only reason why he is "guaranteed" a roster spot for next year is because the team picked up his option prior to his season-ending surgery. If you squint hard, you can see a scenario where John Jenkins turns into a rotation player in the league, but it is far from a lock at this point.

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