Hawks evaluate Green, Jenkins

None of the teams picking in the NBA draft Thursday can be certain that prospects can do the same things in the NBA that they did in college.

There are two skills in particular, though, that tend to survive the move up in class better than others.

"Shooting and rebounding," Hawks assistant general manager Dave Pendergraft said. "Generally if you shoot well in college, that's an NBA skill that comes to the next level. And if you rebound the ball well in college, that's generally a skill that comes with you as well."

The Hawks could have to decide whether they'll use the No. 23 overall pick on one of two college prospects who are better at those skills than any other highly ranked players: Michigan State forward Draymondcq MC Green and Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins.

Green, the Big Ten player of the year last season, is one of the stronger rebounders in the draft. His rebounding rate per 40 minutes (13.0) is the best among players rated in the first round, slightly better even than projected No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis (12.9) of Kentucky.

The knock on Green is he's 6-foot-7 and, relatively, not very athletic. He likely will have a tough time playing his bruising style against bigger NBA players and may not be quick enough to play small forward.

Green also is 22 years old, which makes him an older prospect in a league where the tendency is to draft for potential. Green is more accomplished than many younger players in the draft, but he may not get much better.

Green makes the case that being a four-year college player gives him an edge in maturity, both mentally and physically. He said that's how he managed to be one of the better post players in NCAA Division I, despite his limitations.

"Every year I've learned to use my body more against guys with more length," Green said. "Just figuring out the little niches and the things you have to do. That just comes with more experience. I feel I will be a lot more mature [than younger rookies]."

Green said some teams have told him they think he can play power forward and other teams small forward. Working in Green's favor is the recent trend of more teams (including the Hawks) using smaller, quicker lineups.

In addition to his knack for rebounding, Green is a strong passer and solid shooter. Hawks coach Larry Drew said those skills, plus Green's work ethic, make him a good bet to make it in the NBA.

"I don't think there are enough players like him, that bring a little bit of everything to the table," Drew said.

Jenkins can boast of being the best shooter in college basketball as a senior. He posted the top effective field-goal percentage (a metric that accounts for the increased value of 3-pointers) among Division I guards.

"He's a guy that, watching him play and the way teams play him, it's kind of that J.J. Redick feel," Drew said, referring to the Orlando Magic sharpshooter. "If he's on the court, you better be with him at all times. It would be great to have a guy like that."

Jenkins' relative lack of foot speed has also raised questions about his ability to defend. Not surprisingly, Jenkins said teams have keyed in on testing his defensive ability during workouts.

"They know I can shoot and score the ball, but they need to know if I can play defense," he said. "I just want to prove that I can."