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Knicks ink former Vanderbilt standout John Jenkins to 10-day contract

The team continues to forage for talented players with something to prove

NBA: Preseason-Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder
Jenkins will need to make buckets in order to earn another 10-day contract with the Knicks
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks have agreed to sign 27-year-old shooting guard John Jenkins to a 10-day contract, as part of a continuing quest to find former first round draft picks who’ve yet to catch on in the NBA but still have potential.

The Knicks were able to sign Jenkins after three roster spots opened up in the wake of the recent Kristaps Porzingis trade and subsequent waiving of Enes Kanter and Wesley Matthews, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley. The team made the news official early Monday afternoon.

Since being drafted 23rd overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 2012, Jenkins, 6’4” and 215 pounds, has bounced around the league, spending stints in the NBA proper as well as the G-League. In 54 total G-League games since he was drafted (playing for the Westchester Knicks, Capital City Go-Go’s, Salt Lake City Stars, Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Northern Arizona Suns), Jenkins has averaged 24.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists. In 145 NBA games, he’s averaged 12.8 minutes a game and put up 5.1 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists.

He’s done some impressive things with the W-Knicks, such as the time he dropped 40 against the Long Island Nets in 2017.

Or the time, earlier this season, when he torched the Lakeland Magic to the tune of 44 points, a W-Knicks franchise record.

Jenkins’ overall scoring output is certainly agreeable, but it’s his ability as a three-point marksman that is probably most tantalizing for the Knicks front office. In the NBA, where he’s played for the Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, Jenkins has hit 95 of 261 three point attempts, good for 36.4 percent. That number in and of itself isn’t exactly eye-popping, but it’s worth it to note that the league average from three this year is 35.4 percent, meaning that at the very least, he’s an above average three point shooter.

Jenkins looks even more impressive from beyond the arc when you look at his more recent stats; specifically, the numbers he’s put up as part of the W-Knicks. In 19 games with the minor league ‘Bocker boys earlier this season, he posted the following per game stat line: 36.7 minutes, 24.8 points, 47 percent from field, 42.5 percent from three, 3.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.1 steals. In 16 games with the W-Knicks in 2016-17, Jenkins averaged 34.5 minutes per game, scoring 20.9 points while shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three. He’s also an exceptional free throw shooter, having shot at a 92.8 percent clip from the stripe for the W-Knicks this season.

The pickup of Jenkins comes at the conclusion of a 10-day contract he signed with the Washington Wizards. Jenkins barely played during his stint with the Wizards, scoring 6 points in 14 total minutes across four games. Most importantly, he was 2-2 from three point land.

If Jenkins can display his three point shooting touch over the course of his first 10-day contract with the Knicks, then chances are high the team will ink him to a second 10-day deal. After that, under NBA rules, the Knicks would either have to sign him for the rest of the season or release him.

For what it’s worth, Jenkins brings with him a teensy little bit of experience playing in the playoffs. See for yourself by pointing your eyes in the direction of the following chart:

John Jenkins NBA playoff stats

Jenkins hails from Hendersonville, Tennessee. He played three years of college ball at Vanderbilt, posting 16.9 points per game in total. During his sophomore and junior seasons, he led the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference, or SEC, in scoring (19.5 points per game and 19.9 points per game, respectively). At the conclusion of his junior year, Jenkins was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press.

Jenkins becomes the latest player to use the Knicks G-League affiliate to catapult themselves into the big show. Last month, the Knicks signed Kadeem Allen to a two-way NBA contract, and in the seven games he’s played since, Allen is averaging 7 points, 3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in just under 21 minutes per game. Damyean Dotson and Trey Burke are among the other current and now former Knicks who honed their games in the G-League before cementing themselves as NBA players.

To learn more about Jenkins, and to get a look at what goes on inside his mind, check out this interview he did in November with P&T’s very own ArdenFranklyn. As a teaser meant to compel you into clicking on that interview link, Jenkins discusses why, at the start of training camp this year, he decided to buy everyone on the W-Knicks copies of Kobe Bryant’s new book, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. He also talks about other stuff. You should really just read the interview.

Welcome to the Knicks, John. Hope you’re a fan of tanks!