- Measurables: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, junior guard from Vanderbilt
- Key Stats: 19.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 43 percent from three
- Projected: Late first/early second round
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why I’m intrigued by this guy
Two guards who are elite shooters (Jenkins is among best pure shooters in the draft) typically rise in the draft rather than fall. Klay Thompson, for example, started off projected in the late first round territory where Jenkins currently is listed in most mocks and by the time the draft rolled around, he’d risen all the way into the lottery. If I had to guess with Jenkins, I’d assume he’ll go higher than currently projected (although I don’t think he’ll rise like Thompson did — Thompson is a much bigger guard than Jenkins). But still, if he manages to hang around until early in the second round, he’s a great fit for the Pistons.
Pros for the Pistons
The Pistons have several skills they could use in their backcourt — passing, the ability to take care of the ball, shooting and size. Jenkins brings two of those things. He’d possibly be the best shooter on Detroit’s roster the moment he joined the team. He’s shot above 40 percent from three his entire college career and the Pistons desperately need a long range threat or two.
Secondly, at 6-foot-4/215 pounds, he’s not a gigantic guard by any stretch, but he’s certainly bigger than Detroit’s other backup options under contract for next season — Will Bynum and Ben Gordon. Jenkins is big enough and defends decently enough to be an upgrade over either of the current backups against bigger guards on second units.
Cons for the Pistons
With Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight as the two primary guards, the Pistons probably crave having a more traditional, pass-first point guard who can also knock down open threes as a backup. Unfortunately, they’re unlikely to get a player with both of those skills in the second round (unless they end up with Scott Machado). Jenkins’ shooting would certainly be welcome, but he’s also not a player who could give minutes at the backup PG spot. Lawrence Frank seems to like using a three-guard rotation rather than a four-guard rotation, at least based on last season, so the Pistons might be looking for a guard who can give minutes at either spot if they are indeed looking for upgrades in their backcourt backups (and they should be).
What others are saying
- Big-time shooter with deep range on his jumper
- Super quick release on his jumper
Looking forward, Jenkins is an interesting prospect due to his one extremely potent skill, but his success will largely be dependent on where he’s drafted due to his obvious limitations. Because he appears to be a truly elite shooter and has the intangible qualities well suited to his likely role, he should have a good chance of carving himself out a niche in the NBA, but how well he does will be very tied to the offensive scheme he plays in and how he’s utilized by his coach. Maximizing his defensive and athletic abilities should be his biggest priority in pre-draft and beyond, as he likely largely is what he is from an offensive standpoint.
His coach, Kevin Stallings, believes there’s more to it than that.
“His shooting skills speak for themselves,” Stallings said. “You don’t have to discuss those too much and haven’t had to discuss them much since he arrived on campus.
“But his defense has just gotten so much better. He’s now a quality defender that we can rely on and actually really depend on, and that’s a big change from his first two years. His ball-handling and passing have gotten better also.”
What is the best thing John Jenkins does for his team?
John Jenkins may not be an elite athlete, but he’s got one elite skill that should make him a valued commodity in the NBA for years to come – a deadly accurate long-range shot. Jenkins came to Vanderbilt as the best shooter in his high school class and immediately lived up to those expectations. He cracked Kevin Stallings’s starting lineup as a freshman and proved that he can be a deadly scorer against the SEC’s elite defenses.
Jenkins may be a bit undersized for a pro shooting guard at 6’4″, 220 lbs, but his size hasn’t hampered his offense at all. His ultra-quick release helps him get off shots before defenders can close in on him, so getting his shot off was never a problem in the NCAA. He became a specialist at drawing fouls in the act of a three-point shot, attesting to his quickness with the ball in his hands.
However, the rest of his game lags behind his shooting skill. Jenkins improved throughout his time in Nashville but he’s just an average athlete. His passing and ballhandling aren’t impressive. He showed off an improved ability to get to the rim as a junior, but the legit bigs of the NBA would eat him up on many of his drives. He also has the stigma of being a below average defender. That’s no longer true after last season and his opportunity to work with Matt Painter and the U-21 Team USA squad, but he’ll never be a stopper at the position.
With Jenkins, you’re getting an elite shooter who will be able to contribute at the next level. His defense is underrated right now, and he’s got the work ethic to become a solid one-on-one defender and a potential asset when it comes to team defense. His offense will be driven by his jump shooting, but he’s proven that his ability behind the arc is strong enough to be a consistent scoring threat.
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