Jenkins Earns Recognition Among Rookies
With Lou Williams out for the season, Larry Drew said one of the guys who would have to step up in his place is rookie John Jenkins.
Drew’s not the only one who sees the writing on the wall.
Scouts Inc.’s David Thorpe labeled Jenkins as one of four rookies most likely to break out in the second half of the season, primarily because of the expected increase in playing time.In his midseason awards, Thorpe also labeled Jenkins the best shooter in the class.
“Jenkins has a quick trigger and, like all special shooters, even his misses look good. He has made deep shots consistently the past two months and, with his playing time likely to increase, we will get an even better look at just what kind of shooter he can be.”
Jenkins has shown flashes of taking the game we all saw at Vanderbilt and transferring it to the NBA. He torched the SEC last season on his way to winning conference player of the year and helping the Commodores to an SEC tournament championship, but many wondered is the smaller Jenkins (6’4”, 215 lbs) could compete with the taller, stronger guards on the game’s biggest stage.
His three-point percentage (43.2) is higher than his two-point percentage, which shows just how much he’s capable of stretching a defense. Considering Jenkins didn’t get to play at all until Nov. 11 and played only in garbage time until notching 17 minutes in a blowout home loss to the Warriors Dec. 15, it’s a minor miracle he even made Thorpe’s list. Lately Larry Drew has shown confidence in the rookie, and Jenkins has responded by showing confidence in himself to take more shots. Since the turn of the New Year, he has played double-digit minutes in all but one game. Take out his 1-6 shooting from three-point territory against San Antonio, and he’s hitting threes at a 50 percent clip this month.
One thing Jenkins will have to work on is defense, particularly on-ball defense against some of the greatest ball handlers in the league. Early in the second quarter in a game against Oklahoma City, Jenkins was tasked with guarding Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. Jenkins played only six minutes before being replaced by Kyle Korver after Westbrook broke him down on several consecutive trips down the court. He didn’t play again that night.
Rarely do rookies come into the league as complete players, and Jenkins is no exception. But he has the skills and the veterans around him to learn from. With Williams down, he will no doubt be asked to do more to keep the Hawks on pace with the upper half of the Eastern Conference.