John Jenkins: A Diamond in the Rough


Apr 16, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks shooting guard John Jenkins (12) pulls up for a shot over Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Raptors won 113-96. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

John Jenkins, AKA J-Lo, made a name for himself with Hawks fans around mid-March when he dropped four double digit scoring outputs in about two weeks of play. In case you’ve been under a rock for the entire season, here’s a little more information on John Logan Jenkins.

Author’s Note: I know what you’re thinking, reader… “A rock?! Who does this Barnes guy think he is? I’ve already paid off my mortgage!” If that’s not the case, well, I hope you enjoy this anyway. Carry on.

At the end of the 2011-2012 season, I was looking forward to the draft. As my first draft as an obsessed Hawks fan, I took it upon myself to do as much research as possible on every player that was projected to wiggle through David Stern’s lips when he says, “With the 23rd pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, the ‘Atlaynta Hahwks’ select ____________.” Naturally, I googled “NBA Mock Draft 2012” and found myself jumping around several draft specific websites. After watching old games on my WatchESPN app, YouTube scouting reports, and workout videos, I was enamored with several players. Jeffrey Taylor, Tony Wroten Jr, Fab Melo, Jared Cunningham, Festus Ezeli, and many others made their way onto my iPad’s screen as I analyzed their games like I knew how to at the time: smile at pretty basketball.

But then life threw me a curveball and the Hawks hired Danny Ferry. Should that have affected my scouting? Probably not, except for the fact that he traded away (my


dream-killer) Joe Johnson and (

my other hero

) Marvin Williams (Who am I kidding? Even Utah is tired of Marvin already.) I was sent through a metaphorical loop and I had no clue who the Hawks would draft. Talk about a wild June, eh?

On draft night, I sat on pins and needles (


just kidding, I own a couch) as I anxiously awaited David Stern to call out the 23rd pick. My mind was all over the place.

“Please Jeffrey Taylor. Please Jeffrey Taylor. Please Jeffrey Taylor,” I pleaded as the commish approached the podium. I loved his work at Vanderbilt and I thought he would fit in well after the recent acquisition of Lou Williams (who was I kidding?).

“With the 23rd pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, the ‘Atlaynta Hahwks’ select John Jenkins from Vanderbilt.”

My head was buried in my hands.

“What did Ferry just do! Wait, who is this guy?”

I realized that I had never heard of John Jenkins, much less “scouted” him. I had so many questions running through my head.

“Is he good? Can he shoot (stupid question)? How did I not notice him in Vanderbilt games? Is he really a first-round pick?”

If I remember right, Tom Penn of ESPN led off the Pick No. 23 “coverage” by mentioning how teams late in the first-round tend to lean toward specialists, from shooters to rim protectors to defensive specialists. Well, we certainly grabbed a specialist alright.

And, as of right now, I couldn’t be happier.

Now that we’re done with my attempt at creative writing, let’s dig into J-Lo’s game, shall we?

The Henderson, Tennessee native had a solid rookie season in the league. He averaged 6.1 points and 14.8 minutes a game. Think that’s not very good? Put him in a starting role and have him play 36 minutes and his points bump up to 14.9 a game. His shooting percentages weren’t stupendous, but he proved that his stroke is gorgeous and I have complete faith in him to work on his game this offseason and make any small tweaks he thinks he needs.

Speaking of this offseason, where does J-Lo go from here? I recently came across this brief piece from David Thorpe of and Scouts Inc. where he suggests a veteran that he should study and learn from. Johnny’s veteran? Stephen Curry, the same guy who hit 272 three-pointers in one season. Not a bad guy to learn from. Check out Thorpe’s opinion on the topic:

"There is little doubt that Jenkins has the stuff to be an elite shooter in this league. That alone should help him stick around for years. But if he can add more craft to his game and play the point guard spot while still being a great shooter? Then he’s a valuable starter.Curry left college with real question marks about his ability to play the point (while I saw him as the next Steve Nash), but has added better ball skills to his incredible shooting game. Because defenders have to press up on him, he now has a better chance to attack at the right angle to create a man advantage or draw help, allowing him to make a pass to exploit that advantage. Curry has also learned when to dominate the scoring and when to run the show, something that would help Jenkins enormously."

Wise words, David. Imagining John Jenkins with killer handles is giving me goosebumps as I type this. (Do you really need proof?)

Courtesy of Synergy Sports, Jenkins participated in a grand total of 365 offensive plays in his rookie showcase. Out of those 365, he was spotting-up 27.9% of the time while making only 34.7% of his field goal attempts. Not so pretty. Transition plays accounted for 23.6% of his action and off-screen plays totaled 19.7%. The transition game did wonders for John as he shot 57.6% from long range and racked up 1.24 points-per-possession. While most players are successful in the front court, off-screen plays are the ones that catch my eye. Threeroy Jenkins made 50.8% of his field-goal attempts coming off of a screen, but only 20% of his threes. Is there cause for alarm? Not really, considering he only took 10 threes total.

Let’s take a look at a nifty new shot chart, courtesy of our pals over at (roll over the picture for details):

In this graphic, the bigger the dot, the more shots were attempted at that spot. Make sense?

What I’m amused by is the plethora of red-dot hot-spots (Dr Seuss, you rang?) that Jenkins has from the three-point line. You can tell he’s comfortable from the left wing,  the right wing (free-throw line extended), and slightly to the right of the top of the key. Shots like this:

Sorry I was having issues with my normal video capture software, so this had to suffice. I’m not sure where the background music came from.

I was very impressed with his 57.6% true-shooting percentage, as well as many other advanced statistics that I won’t bore you with, but some defensive numbers jump out. His net rating was -7.9, meaning that per 100 possessions the other team scored nearly 8 more points. That’s a loss, folks. Sure, Jenkins spent the first half of the year only playing in garbage time situations, but this isn’t exactly comforting.

If John can improve his general athleticism, his defensive contributions will be boosted significantly. He’s not a natural athlete and I don’t remember him ever dunking, but working hard in the offseason can only help him. Another tidbit: Korver was recognized as a solid team defender on the Hawks this season and on the Bulls for the few years prior. Could this happen to Jenkins? Both he and Korver fit the role of “a shooter that isn’t a pure athlete that can contribute well on the defensive end.”

Something I noticed while doing some research: it has been brought to my attention that John Jenkins is not respected as a member of the NBA by members of the world-wide-web. Google returned my search for “John Jenkins” with the former UGA defensive lineman. He hasn’t even played in the NFL yet! More respect for my man Johnny please!

Depending on the upcoming offseason, Jenkins has an opportunity to win the starting job or compete for the 6th Man slot (also depending on Lou Williams’ preference and the coach’s beliefs, whoever it may be). I am super super super excited to watch John grow next season and I hope y’all are too. He has a solid chance to become a very important member of the Hawks and I hope he takes advantage of it. The best part about this season, in my opinion, was that he could’ve played better. He missed a lot of open threes that could be classified as “rookie shots”. Coming in as a sophomore and being one of the few players to return will help his confidence as a gunner.

John Jenkins had a satisfying rookie season, in my opinion, and I am excited to watch him play in the Summer League and for the next several years. Thanks for giving it your all Johnny Cash.

We will all be watching.

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