Coming into the season it was understandable to not expect many minutes for John Jenkins. Jenkins was known as a shooting specialist at SG and the Hawks had plenty of options at SG including DeShawn Stevenson, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, Louis Williams, and Anthony Morrow. Also, Larry Drew has a reputation of distrusting young players and furthermore evaluating their readiness on defense alone which wasn’t expected to be a strong suit of John Jenkins. I think most of us figured that if we saw much court time from Jenkins we’d likely see some 3 pointers.
The season started as expected for John Jenkins. By December 28th, Jenkins had only 1 game with more than 6:19 of court time and that was a blowout. Then injuries struck and John’s playing time jumped up to double digits in 9 of his next 11 games mainly filling in for Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow. He hit 57% of his 3 point attempts in this stretch. Then Louis Williams was lost for the season creating a more permanent opportunity for Jenkins. Unfortunately Jenkins didn’t stay hot during this stretch shooting only 29% from deep. After that Jenkins turned it on shooting 45% from deep over the next 25 games although looking closely at the numbers showed him as streaky. The last 3 games of regular season it looked as if John Jenkins had lost all confidence in his deep shot (0-13) and had really hit the wall. This correctly predicted his lack of impact in the post season. He finished 2 among 1st round draft picks in 3 point percentage barely behind #3 pick Bradley Beal.
It does bear mentioning that more than once during the season that Larry Drew complimented John Jenkins improvement on defense. Those comments helped fuel the idea that maybe the Hawks got more than a 3 point specialist off the bench. If John Jenkins can continue to provide defense with good 3 point shooting then he might be able to man the starting 2 guard spot for the Hawks. Getting starter contributions on rookie salary deals is a must to be competitive these days for clubs in mid-sized to smaller markets.
The late season road trip to San Antonio, where Josh, Al, Kyle, and Devin were given the night off, presented an opportunity for many other Hawks to shine. John Jenkins didn’t get the start, but he made the most of the opportunity. If you looked at the advanced box score his offensive rating was a mind blowing 151. John was 7-9 from the field, 3-3 from deep and 6-6 from the line in just under 28 minutes of action. He also contributed 4 rebounds and 4 assists. It was a thing of beauty.
As a first round draft pick John Jenkins has one of the few guaranteed contracts going into this season, so he will be a Hawk. John Jenkins needs to strengthen his core so he can handle more grind and continue to working on his defense. If those things continue to improve he’ll ultimately be a starter in the league. You would think that he’ll get more playing time next year, but coach and roster will affect that massively. There are scenarios by which he could be starting next year at the 2 guard spot or at least be in a platoon at the spot. At worst, I see Jenkins in the rotation all season as a sub providing offense punch for the 2nd unit.