After Las Vegas Summer League, the Knicks could stand to add another guard into the mix. Could free agent John Jenkins be a valuable addition and contributor for the Knicks this upcoming season?
When assessing the Knicks after their trip to Las Vegas for NBA Summer League, there are plenty things to like about New York moving forward. Including the team’s 4-1 record, the Knicks saw positive contributions from rookie talent, and most importantly, took a step forward offensively under head coach Derek Fisher, showing some variation from the triangle offense.
However, the biggest disappointment was the play of the guards.
Ricky Ledo was flashy in terms of ball handling and could create plays for other, but his shooting wasn’t great. Cleanthony Early scored the basketball, but he was poor defensively and struggled to create for others. I still have hope for Ledo, but as Cleanthony Early enters his age-24 season, I don’t see much improvement coming for his game.
Thansis Antetokounmpo wasn’t the most disappointing, but his game looked much the same – good, active defensive player, his energy and length resulted in blocks and steals. However, his offensive game was still a work in progress. Thanasis’ defensive ability should get him to training camp, but he still has ways to go on the offensive end and could use more time to develop.
While figuring this out over the summer, the Knicks missed out on some low-level free agent options on the wing. Justin Holiday, a solid defender who hit 32 percent of his threes last year, went to Atlanta. Alan Anderson went to Washington for four million, Marcus Thornton went to Houston for cheap and Gerald Green went to Miami for the veteran’s minimum.
Jenkins, who was already attached to the Knicks in the offseason, would be a nice addition for a team with a need in the back of their rotation. With New York trending towards more of pick and roll based offense, Jenkins would be a low-risk move as a shooter.
The most intriguing aspect about Jenkins is that he’s still a bit of a mystery. When the Hawks took him in 2012, they were on the verge of becoming a great team. Jenkins played in 61 games as a rookie, but over the last two seasons, Jenkins played just 37 games, just 13 games in his second season due to a back injury, resulting in just a tick under 100 games played in his three year career.
Along with the mystery, he possesses good size for a reserve guard. Jenkins measured in at six-foot-four in shoes and possess a six-foot-eight wingspan, according to DraftExpress. While defense will never be his calling card, he’s shown to be someone who can hold his own defensively – the Hawks were two points better on defense with him out there amongst great defenders, via 82 games.com – and provided decent defense in a reserve role.
The most appealing skill Jenkins provides is his ability to shoot. Over three seasons, Jenkins has hit 37.5 percent of his threes, including 38% of his 138 threes as a rookie. Via NBA’s stats page, Jenkins worked as a catch and shoot player, hitting 40.9 percent of his threes in that aspect. Adding a good shooter to a team that ranked in the bottom third of the league in made and threes attempted would help the Knicks take a step forward and launch more threes.
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In leaving Vegas, the Knicks have found many things to love for the future.
Rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant played well. Grant looked like a classic two-way point guard – thriving as a pick and roll guard, who’s size and speed can help defend opposing guards. On the other end, Porzingis flashed a bit of everything. He set good screens, defended on both the perimeter and altered shots at the rim and he showed a nice jumper. If he puts it all together, the Knicks could have a really good player.
They also found a potential rotation player in Maurice Ndour. In Vegas, Ndour did more than enough to be brought to training camp. Defended on the perimeter, provided slid energy and defense and launched a couple of threes. With a seven-foot-four wingspan, Ndour is someone I would bring to camp, maybe as a three-and-D wing they can develop.
However, the guards struggled throughout the week and while the Knicks are looking more towards the future, they put together a good free agency class, giving them a chance to be feisty in the back half of the Eastern Conference. Ledo, Early and Antetokounmpo didn’t provide anything to lock them into a roster spot, leaving the guard spot behind Arron Afflalo vacant.
With the $2.8 room exception, John Jenkins makes sense as a shooter who can sit in the back of their rotation, offer production this season and if he can remain healthy, figure in as a potential reserve for years to come.