Vivlamore reporting. The Hawks are off today. Here is my story on rookies John Jenkins and Mike Scott that will appear in Saturday’s print edition of the AJC.
John Jenkins and Mike Scott are on the verge of doing something two Hawks picks haven’t done in four previous drafts.
Make the team.
Consider the team’s recent history:
* 2011 – Keith Benson
* 2010 – Damion James (traded) and Pape Sy
* 2009 – Jeff Teague and Sergiy Gladyr
* 2008 – No picks
Of that group, only Teague made the team in his draft year. You have to go back to 2007 when Al Horford and Acie Law were kept on the roster as rookies.
Coach Larry Drew said Jenkins and Scott possess an NBA skill set. While the two are still learning the speed of the professional game, they will, in all likelihood, be contributors off the Hawks bench this season.
Jenkins, the team’s first-round pick (No. 23 overall) was considered one of the nation’s best shooters in this year’s draft out of Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-6 guard led the SEC in scoring each of the past two seasons. He tied for 16th in the nation with a 19.9 points per game average and tied for 10th by shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range last year.
“I can see he’s doing a lot of thinking,” Drew said during training camp. “When you do too much thinking it takes away a little bit from your instinctive moves. Right now, he’s learning. He’ll continue to learn. Once he gets comfortable with everything, I’ll see a better flow with him. John can shoot the basketball. He’s, right now, at this level trying to learn a whole new system which he is not accustomed to. I expected that.”
Jenkins has appeared in three of the Hawks’ five exhibition games this season. He sat out Thursday’s game against the Hornets with a left hand contusion. While on the court, Jenkins has made 5 of 13 field-goal attempts, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range. His total of 13 points is an average of 4.3 per game.
Jenkins, the Hawks’ leading scorer in summer league play with 15.6 points, said the pace of NBA play has been his greatest adjustment during training camp and the exhibition season. He has not had an issue getting his shot attempts.
“I’m not used to having open shots,” Jenkins said. “I had an open shot every time I touched the ball against the Spurs (his exhibition debut). That’s way different for me. Adjusting to that has been a good adjustment rather than a bad one. In college, I was getting double-teamed so much. When I came out here, everybody is so good that you can’t do that. There is a lot more space.”
Scott, a second-round pick (No. 43), said he has adapted well offensively, but learning the defensive principles has given him the most problems.
Scott, who came out of Virginia 21st in the nation with a .563 field-goal percentage, has appeared in four exhibition games. The 6-8 forward has made 11 of 28 field-goal attempts. His total of 28 point is a 7.0 per game average. Scott is also averaging 3.5 rebounds per game.
“I was nervous when it first started out, excited and nervous,” Scott said. “I’m just trying to learn. Learn from the vets, Al (Horford), Josh (Smith), Anthony Tolliver, those guys who play my position. I think each day I’m getting better and better but I still have a lot more to go.”
Scott hit a clutch 3-pointer against the Spurs in his debut Oct. 10. The shot, part of his 11 points and seven straight, tied the game with four seconds remaining before the Spurs won at the buzzer.
Drew said he designed the play to put the rookie in a pressure situation.
The play was not completely new to Scott. It was in the Virginia playbook – stolen from the Timberwolves as a set for Kevin Love – although never run during a game. Scott said he received a call from Virginia coach Tony Bennett who immediately noticed the play and joked that Drew was stealing his plays.
“It was probably one of the biggest shots I’ve ever taken, even though it was a preseason game,” Scott said. “For him to call that play for me shows he has a lot of confidence in me at that time. If I make it, I make it as long as I don’t shy away from it.”
- Chris Vivlamore
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