NBA Draft 2012: Is John Jenkins 1st-Round Material?

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Is John Jenkins 1st-Round Material?

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    Coming out of a draft dominated by big men, John Jenkins is a crafty outside marksman with the immense capability to shoot a team to victory single-handedly.

    Jenkins stands at 6'4" and weighs in at 215 pounds, and while he put up heavily one-dimensional offensive numbers in three years at Vanderbilt, his penchant for hitting big shots makes him a viable candidate to be remembered as a draft-day steal.

    But does that potential stretch into first-round candidacy?

    Let's find out.

What Does Jenkins Have to Offer?

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    John Jenkins leaves much to be desired on the defensive end and must learn how to pass out of double-teams more adequately, but he's a phenomenal shooter with a quick release and impressive mechanics.

    While he must improve his shot selection to become successful in the NBA, he became a threat to create off the dribble in his last season at Vanderbilt, an impressive, albeit necessary weapon to add to his arsenal moving forward.

    Though Jenkins is far from one of the most talented defenders coming in, he made some clear headway in developing respectable awareness and anticipation on that side of the ball. And as an incoming 2-guard looking to separate himself from the rest of the fringe-rotation players on his team, that will prove to be absolutely invaluable.

    It also doesn't hurt that he has never shot below 40 percent from beyond the arc, converting on as much as 48.3 percent of his attempts during his freshman campaign.

How Stable Is His Reputation?

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    John Jenkins' average of 19.2 points per game is a coveted statistic, but there's some doubt as to whether he can establish himself as more than merely a spot-up shooter.

    However, Chad Ford of seems to be losing little sleep over Jenkins' ability to make a strong transition.

    Jenkins looked terrific at the Santa Barbara workout in late May. He was lights out in the shooting drills, going 13-of-15 from the college 3-point line and 12-of-15 from NBA range.

    That won't surprise anyone. Most scouts believe Jenkins is the best shooter in the draft (a few give Kentucky Wildcats guard Doron Lamb the edge). The question is whether Jenkins can be more than a spot-up shooter. 

    The work he's done over the past few months suggests that he may. He's put on noticeable muscle and has worked on his explosiveness. He looked much stronger and bouncier than he did at Vanderbilt. If he can tighten up the handle, he could have a long career in the NBA. Right now we have Jenkins as a bubble first-rounder.

    Despite an impressive season that saw Jenkins grow as a player, his reputation as a volume shooter who lacks offensive variety will continue to precede him.

    That said, with a strong training camp, perhaps coupled with a stint in the summer league, the shooting guard should have no problem shedding this unflattering expectation by opening day.

What Can We Expect from Jenkins Next Year?

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    A team can never have too many capable shooters, so expect John Jenkins to be used more than sparingly throughout his rookie year.

    If he can continue to knock down shots in transition and coming off screens—while also getting his feet wet at creating off the dribble—his offensive readiness should be primed for the role he was built to assume.

    Defensively, though, it will probably take some time to hone his skills and render him effective.

    Jenkins is not used to going up against swingmen as athletic or even as quick as the ones he will see in the NBA.

    If he's able to shore up his anticipation, specifically with regards to an opponent's first step, he has the opportunity to develop into a player who can make a two-way impact.

The Verdict

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    John Jenkins is far from a completely polished product, but currently, his upside easily outweighs his shortcomings.

    Though he has a ways to go on the defensive end, he has the quickness and athleticism necessary to evolve into a capable defender.

    As one dimensional as he may be, there are no shortage of one-trick pony stars in the NBA. So, while his offensive arsenal may be his one true weapon right now, he's effective enough at his craft to be drafted in the first round.

    For late first-round teams like the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder, he's an offensive powerhouse that warrants serious consideration, and ultimately, at some point, a selection.