John Jenkins made the cut and will be with the Phoenix Suns for the 2016-17 NBA Season.
You remember John Jenkins, right? A late season addition, he played 22 games down the stretch, playing about 10 minutes a game. He was generally competent, if unspectacular, as the Suns crumbled like so much crumb cake to end the season.
The Suns choosing to keep Jenkins is a bit surprising. He plays at the team’s deepest position. He wasn’t able to play in the pre-season at all due to a nagging injury. He hasn’t been the same since back surgery two years ago. And his contract was non-guaranteed if the Suns cut him prior to the end of the pre-season.
At one point in time Jenkins looked like a solid bench role-player. With the Hawks in his rookie year, Jenkins shot 38% from 3, and really finished the season strong. That was 2012-13. Since that point, Jenkins has played less than 1000 NBA minutes.
There have been spurts of strong play. In the 2nd game of the season last year, with the Dallas Mavericks, Jenkins put up 17 points and 6 boards against the LA Clippers. In garbage time late in the season Jenkins put up 11 and 8 against the Kings.
But more often than not Jenkins just doesn’t get on the court. And his fit on this team just seems questionable. He’s really too small to play at the 3 spot, the teams shallowest position, especially if P.J. Tucker misses time. He’s not better than any of the guards ahead of him on the depth chart. Even if there are injuries, he’s still so far down the depth chart that his playing time is going to be minuscule.
My gut hunch with Jenkins is that he’s been working hard with the Suns training staff to get healthy, and the team is willing to take a chance that they are getting the player that looked valuable with the Hawks a few years ago. If he is at that level, he could potentially be the best pure shooter on this team. And Jenkins’ experiences with that Atlanta team might in and of themselves be useful to the Suns this season, both the players and the coaching staff.
Jenkins’ role this season is a mystery. I expect him, like Alan Williams, to be on fashion-watch for much of the season. I expect him to get some fine suits from The Clotherie. His impact on the team this season, outside of being a good model, is largely going to be invisible to us. He’ll be a useful practice guy and hopefully a steady presence on the bench.
That would be a successful season for him.