The Atlanta Hawks made two selections in last Thursday’s NBA Draft. With the 23rd overall pick, the Hawks drafted John Jenkins, a 6’4 shooting guard from Vanderbilt, and with the 43rd overall pick, the Hawks drafted Mike Scott, a 6’8-6’9 power forward from Virginia. Let’s take a look at the two draftees in some detail.
Strengths: Jenkins is a shooter. Pure and simple. He has a very quick release that allows him to get his shot off in areas when you wouldn’t think that he could, and it goes in at a high rate. Jenkins shot 41% or higher in each of his 3 college seasons including 48% as a freshman, and nearly 44% last year while being the focus of the opposing defense. Jenkins is also an elite free-throw shooter, and that comes in handy. His range isn’t a question either, as his natural shooting motion allows him to push out well past the NBA line. In addition, his wingspan is over 6’8, and that extra length should allow him to shoot over small guards.
Weaknesses: If you notice on the strengths portion of the write-up, you’ll see that is entirely focused on Jenkins’ jump shot. The reason for this is that his done nothing else particularly well. He has incredibly low rebound rates for a player his size, committed more turnovers than assists last season at Vanderbilt, and doesn’t create his own shot particularly well. The real issue with Jenkins is his overall athleticism. Because it is lacking as an already-undersized two guard, it will be difficult for him to generate much productivity defensively or in non-shooting environments on the offensive end in the league. I really trust the work of John Hollinger, and he has Jenkins projected with a rookie PER of under 8.00, which basically echoes the question marks in every area of his game besides his jump shot.
NBA Comparison: A poor man’s JJ Redick or Dell Curry have been thrown around, but I think a shorter version of a guy like Anthony Morrow might be apt. He’ll have an NBA career as long as he’s able to get his shot off, but it may be as a pure niche guy.
Possible Role: For the 2012-13 Hawks, Jenkins role will likely depend on the rest of the bench’s construction. He could fit nicely in an 8th-9th man role as the team’s chief shooter off the bench, but in the past, Larry Drew and company have been unwilling to stick to certain roles for the bench, and Jenkins is a guy that, if put in bad positions, could be a negative asset. I wouldn’t expect too much in year one, but if he’s put in a position to succeed (read: shoot), he could have a positive impact.
Strengths: Scott is a versatile power forward with varying skills. He had elite numbers in college, especially when considering that Virginia played at one of the slowest tempos in the country. His Hollinger PER for his senior season was nearly 31, which would’ve been good for top-5 nationally. In comparison, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (21.94), Bradley Beal (21.17), Dion Waiters (26.29), and Harrison Barnes (22.70) all had their numbers dwarfed by Scott, and even Thomas Robinson (28.53) didn’t match Mike Scott’s efficiency in college. Basically, he was a fantastic college basketball player. Scott is a scorer first, but he can rebound efficiently (over 10 rebounds per 40 minutes in college), and has a nice jump shot for his size. Also, there are no make-up questions in terms of motor as he plays hard all the time.
Weaknesses: You’re probably think I’m in the tank for Scott after reading the strengths portion (and you’d be right), but there are certainly question marks despite his college performance. First of all, he’s nearly 24 years old. There is a reason he stayed all 4 years in college, and it’s because he lacks upside. He’s an average athlete (at best), he’s undersized at the 4 spot, has injury issues, and doesn’t have the one elite skill that you can pencil in at the NBA level. In the past, there’s been a groundswell against this type of player (Paul Millsap, Craig Smith, the list goes on) who doesn’t have the measurables, but I think Scott has a defined ceiling as a role player.
NBA Comparison: The best reasonable comp I can give would be a poor man’s Millsap. Millsap is a better athlete, but Scott has the same type of varied offensive game, motor, and rebounding ability. Other guys I’ve seen are Dante Cunningham, Luke Harangody (I hope this doesn’t happen), and former Syracuse forward John Wallace.
Possible Role: This will greatly depend on whether Ivan Johnson is on the Hawks roster in 2012-13. I think Scott could be a productive bench player right away, but the willingness to use him as such is the question. If Ivan comes back, there’s certainly an argument against playing Scott at all because Ivan has proven that he’s at least an average NBA player, but I do feel that with opportunity, Scott can and will provide value in comparison to the investment.
Overall Reaction: The Jenkins pick doesn’t exactly scream upside from Danny Ferry’s first draft. He has a defined ceiling in my opinion, and there were players I would’ve rather had (Perry Jones, Draymond Green among them) at that position. Mike Scott is a steal at #43 in my opinion, so I have no gripe there, but I’m very, very interested to see the direction that the bench takes as far as roster composition. Stay Tuned.