John Jenkins has been tearing up the G League this year, but will he get called up to the bigs?
Knicks fans, if you’re not familiar with John Jenkins, make sure you do some homework. The 27-year-old journeyman guard has been absolutely sensational for the Eastern Conference–leading Westchester Knicks this season. His 27.3 points per game ranks second in the G League, behind only Chris Boucher of the Raptors 905. Discussion about calling Jenkins up to the Knicks has increased due to his outstanding performance, prior NBA experience, and the Knicks’ need for wing depth.
Jenkins’ path is starting to develop into one that is oddly similar to that of current Knick Trey Burke. Burke, like Jenkins, was a former first-round pick who didn’t have much of an impact in his first NBA stint but was so good down in Westchester last season that he left the Knicks virtually no choice but to bring him up. Jenkins is approaching that threshold rapidly and could be in a ‘Bocker uniform sooner than you think.
Despite bouncing around the G League and overseas for the majority of his professional career, the former 2012 first-round pick has a decent chunk of experience in the Association under his belt, suiting up for the Hawks, Mavs, and Suns. Unfortunately for Jenkins, he has been unable to maintain any continuity in the NBA but will not be discouraged from pursuing his dream. Jenkins has been on record saying his ultimate goal is to play in the NBA, and he looks hungrier than ever to find a long-term home at the next level.
— Westchester Knicks (@wcknicks) November 3, 2018
Jenkins has been the unquestioned leader of the DubKnicks this season and is a seasoned veteran compared to most of the young guys he has played with this year. His prior experience in the pros bodes well for him going forward—if and when the Knicks decide to potentially call him up.
Recently, the Knicks’ depth at the wing position has taken a bit of a hit with injuries to Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, and leading scorer Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Trier has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury and isn’t close to returning. The Knicks don’t seem too keen on rushing him back either, since Trier is an integral part of the future. Plus, the Knicks are headed nowhere near playoff contention this season.
Hardaway Jr. has been dealing with plantar fasciitis for a while, a nagging heel injury that could be a problem for him for the remainder of the season. Hardaway has been struggling recently with his offense, and some of it can probably be attributed to the fact that he isn’t 100 percent healthy. Hardaway has been toughing it out and playing through the injury, but don’t be surprised if we see him sidelined for some time in the near future.
As for Dotson, his bruised shoulder isn’t as concerning as the aforementioned Knicks injuries, but it is something to keep an eye on going forward.
Jenkins is an excellent shooter and would be a perfect fill-in if any of these guys miss time due to their respective injuries. He has arguably been the best wing player in the G League this season and would fit well with the run-and-gun style of offense David Fizdale likes to employ.
— Westchester Knicks (@wcknicks) December 12, 2018
Another thing to consider is that the Knicks are in the midst of a rebuilding youth movement, and are probably not looking to trade for or sign a stopgap-type wing player who has a bad contract and no future. The organization will more likely try to fill the potential shooting guard hole in-house, and Jenkins’ outstanding play makes him a prime candidate to take on that challenge.
How Could It Happen
If Jenkins is called up, the Knicks would have to part ways with one of their current roster pieces. One guy who comes to mind immediately is Courtney Lee. Lee has not played much at all this season, and does not seem to fit into the Knicks’ plans going forward. The Knicks could ship Lee to a contending team in need of bench depth and a veteran presence for a future second-round pick. Lee is a very savvy vet who has ample playoff experience, and there are teams who want him on their side.
Other options include demoting Luke Kornet in favor of Jenkins, or even buying out Enes Kanter’s contract. But with Mitchell Robinson’s injury woes, New York’s staff might not want to sacrifice any frontcourt depth for the time being.
Regardless, if the Knicks want to call up Jenkins badly enough, they will find a way to get him on this team. Thus far, John has given Knicks’ brass every reason to do so.