NBA shouldn't sleep on Charles Jenkins

June, 9, 2011
6/09/11
3:35
PM ET
The excellence of four-year Hofstra star Charles Jenkins -- complete with mythical Chuck Norris-style awesomeness -- is nothing new to college hoops fans. Sure, Jenkins wasn't always a household name. He didn't have the chance to shine under the bright lights of an NCAA tournament, and though the CAA was as solid as any mid-major conference in the country last season, it doesn't get the full-frontal national media treatment frequently. But if you follow college hoops, you at least heard of Jenkins.

The NBA general managers currently examining the 2011 crop of prospective draft picks lack even that level of familiarity. Few teams will have the kind of detailed scouting data on Jenkins as they will for most potential first-round picks. Perhaps it's a surprise, then, that GMs seem to consider Jenkins a first-round pick in the first place. But maybe he should be taken much higher than that.

That's the conclusion SI's Luke Winn reached in this piece, in which Luke uses Synergy Scouting Data to identify the biggest sleeper in the 2011 NBA draft. That sleeper, you might have guessed, is Jenkins. Why?
On numbers alone, he's more impressive than any other scoring guard who's in contention for the first round, because he offers the rare combination of high efficiency in both ISO and spot-up situations. [...]

As the focal point of the Pride's offense, he was rarely left unattended -- 63.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities came with a man in his face -- yet showed an ability to make tough jumpers. His efficiency on guarded shots off the catch was 1.3898 PPP, which ranked 15th nationally among players with at least 50 such possessions. And while Jenkins shoots right-handed, he can go left off the dribble better than anyone in the draft: He had a national-best efficiency of 1.3261 PPP on left-hand drives, which he did 59 percent of the time.

Jenkins is also a rare master of the mid-range game, which has largely disappeared from college hoops as teams run offenses focused on threes and layups. At 1.2069 PPP, Jenkins was the most efficient mid-range player scorer in the nation last season; the runner up was Ohio State's William Buford -- who could be a 2012 first-rounder -- at 1.0333 PPP.

Essentially, Jenkins does it all on the offensive end, and in each of the categories you'd like to see from a ball-dominant, score-first guard -- not that that's all Jenkins is, of course -- he does it all very, very well, much better than many of the guard prospects picked to precede him in the first round of this year's draft.

Of course, the NBA doesn't draft on production. That's essentially what these numbers measure: production. Relating that performance to the NBA game is remarkably difficult. Defenders are taller and faster and more athletic. Decisions must be made that much quicker. Close-outs are much harder to shoot over. And so on.

Nor is Jenkins necessarily still a budding prospect. Already 22, he's already older than 2011 league MVP Derrick Rose. These are major strikes in a league that all too frequently discards current talent and drafts on potential, youth and the possibility of greatness.

Still, the numbers don't lie. Charles Jenkins was really, really good. You probably knew this already. Hofstra fans certainly did. But NBA general managers would do well to familiarize themselves with the notion shortly. If they don't, Jenkins, like spiritual ancestor DeJuan Blair, will slip to an intelligently run franchise like the San Antonio Spurs. The rest of the league will look mighty dumb in the process.

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