The Chicago Bulls must add offense to take a step closer to winning an NBA title, and they could improve dramatically in that department by selecting former Vanderbilt sharpshooter John Jenkins in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft.
Jenkins is ranked as the No. 32 prospect by DraftExpress.com and as the 39th best player in the draft by CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman. He led the SEC in scoring for two straight seasons en route to becoming a two-time first-team All-SEC performer.
He is a 6'4" shooting guard who shot better than 45 percent from the field, made more than 40 percent of his three-point attempts and nailed more than 80 percent of his free throws in each of his three seasons as a Commodore.
That consistency is just the type of offensive performer the Bulls need. He may not be the shot creator that Chicago wants to add to pair with Derrick Rose, but the team is not going to find that difference maker with the 29th overall pick in the draft. Jenkins' shooting ability will boost an offense that desperately needs help after an awful display in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers.
In that series, the Bulls shot 51.3 percent from the field with Rose on the court in Game 1. For the final five games, Chicago made an average of 40.3 percent of its field goals. Those numbers have to improve, and it starts by selecting Jenkins in the first round if he is available.
According to his DraftExpress.com profile, Jenkins is best used off the ball as a spot-up shooter and coming off screens. He has the ability to consistently make a jump shot off one or two dribbles.
Sounds like another Rip Hamilton in the making.
But at age 21, Jenkins is the better long-term fit. Hamilton is entering the final season of his two-year deal with Chicago, and his performance with the Bulls in year one has to be considered a disappointment because of how much time he missed in the regular season due to injuries and of how he performed in the playoffs.
Critics will point to Jenkins' weaknesses as reasons why the Bulls should not select him; he is a below average defender with limited ball handling skills. When Rose went down, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III had a difficult time running the offense against Philly. But Chicago did not have any other go-to ball handlers. They need players who can handle defensive pressure, and Jenkins would not help in that department.
Give credit to Jrue Holiday, Doug Collins and Philadelphia's tenacious defense on the Bulls' point guards during that series, however. That was a major reason why the 76ers emerged victorious. Chicago could not even get into its offensive sets until 10 seconds were left on the shot clock because of the defensive pressure.
As for his defensive shortcomings, Jenkins would have to add muscle in the pros and would be mentored by arguably the greatest defensive coach in the NBA today in Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau would get the most he can out of Jenkins on the defensive end of the floor, and he would be able to at least hold his own to the point where his value on offense outweighs his value on defense.
The Bulls will still have a weak ball-handling team by adding Jenkins, but even if they did try to address that need with the No. 29 pick, the most likely selection would probably be point guard Tyshawn Taylor out of Kansas. Do the Bulls really want a turnover-prone floor general who will probably turn out to be just a solid backup point guard in the NBA?
Jenkins could come off the bench and contribute as early as next season, especially with Chicago starting the year without Rose and likely Luol Deng. The front office also has important decisions to make on the rest of the Bench Mob (Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Watson in particular). The future of each of those players will likely be addressed after the draft.
From a long-term perspective, Jenkins has the potential to develop into the starting shooting guard for Chicago. With Hamilton most likely on his way out after the season, Jenkins could fill that role in as early as his second season depending on how he performs as a rookie.
First, Jenkins has to prove that he is not a defensive liability, and he would need to improve his ball handling to the point where Rose and the Bulls could use him as a safety valve for the offense. His isolation game requires some work, but he has the perimeter shooting and basketball IQ parts down.
Jenkins is an immediate upgrade for the Chicago offense. He can spread the floor and can move well without the ball. Perhaps the most important reason why the Bulls should draft Jenkins is that he gives the team another shooting threat from beyond the arc.
Maybe Stacey King should start bringing the extra large bottle of hot sauce to the United Center.