Former Hawk John Jenkins getting another shot at NBA

John Jenkins was the No. 23 overall pick by the Hawks in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Credit: Bruce Bennett

Credit: Bruce Bennett

John Jenkins was the No. 23 overall pick by the Hawks in the 2012 NBA Draft.

John Jenkins believes he is an NBA player.

The former Hawks first-round draft pick has another chance to get back to the league after his early career path was derailed by injury. Jenkins, a shooting guard, is playing in the Las Vegas Summer League with the Trail Blazers six years after he was the No. 23 overall pick in 2012.

Jenkins started and scored eight points, on 4 of 6 shooting, in the Trail Blazers’ 93-78 win over the Jazz on Saturday. Wearing the No. 64, digits not associated with a can’t-miss prospect, Jenkins will face the Hawks on Sunday in another preliminary round game.

“I worked out in a minicamp for them and it went really well,” Jenkins said of the Blazers. “The offense fits me perfect. With all the draft picks and roster guys they have now, I’m just trying to fit in the best way I can and contribute the best way I can.”

Jenkins averaged 6.1 points and 14.8 minutes in 61 games as a rookie with the Hawks. That summer he suffered a back injury that would eventually require surgery. He played just 13 and 24 games his next two seasons and became a free agent when the Hawks declined to pick up his fourth-year option. Jenkins averaged 5.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 13.8 minutes in his 98 games with Atlanta.

Jenkins had stints with the Mavericks and Suns and stops in the G League. He spent last season in Europe.

“The injury changed everything, honestly,” Jenkins said in reflecting on his time with the Hawks. “As much as I didn’t want to admit it, it changed everything as far as my role on the team. Then there was a coaching change. So many things happened that were out of my control. I felt like I came back better than ever and proved that my last year there. It was too tough to get back into the rotation. I had a good first year, I thought, and I just wanted to come back strong. I ended up getting hurt in the summertime and tried to play through it during the season. It just wasn’t good all the way around.

“The injury definitely hurt me. I wish it never happened but it happened and I have to keep going.”

Jenkins said his mindset and motivation is different these days. He has a wife of two years and a 13-month-old daughter. He would prefer another chance at the NBA but will play wherever necessary.

The Trail Blazers were in need of shooters when they reached out to Jenkins. They have made several offseason additions in Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas that could derail Jenkins, after he averaged 12.7 points in 22 games with San Pablo Burgos of the Liga ACB League last season.

“I know I’m capable of playing in the NBA,” Jenkins said. “I just need the opportunity.”