The Charles Jenkins Experience
A career night for the Warriors rookie from Hofstra.
by Nima Zarrabi / @NZbeFree
Warriors PG Charles Jenkins carries around a small lavender backpack. It rests at his feet proudly as he speaks to reporters following the best game of his rookie year. The words on the backpack read, “Fairy Friends,” an essential piece of the Charles Jenkins Experience. “I’m a rookie and this is part of rookie hazing,” says Jenkins, picking up the grade school bag for emphasis. I’ve been wearing this backpack forever—since training camp.”
Jenkins finished with an impressive 27 points and 6 assists on 13-of-22 shooting last night in a 90-87 road loss to the Blazers. In 40 minutes of action, Jenkins had some great PG flashes, easing his way into open mid-range jumpers and smooth gallops to the rim. A two-time CAA player of the year at Hofstra, Jenkins displayed some of the dazzle he showcased in college, where he was the focal point of his offense. During his senior year, he averaged about 22.6 PPG while shooting .517 from the field (482 attempts).
Prior to last night’s start—his 10th this season— Jenkins had not attempted more than 10 shots in an NBA game. With GS thin at PG due to injuries to Steph Curry and Nate Robinson, the chiseled 6-3, 220-pounder got into a smooth flow early on and kept shooting. But Raymond Felton and Nic Batum hit clutch shots late for Portland and the Warriors couldn’t execute in the clutch. The Warriors had a final play drawn up to tie the game, but Jenkins and Klay Thompson were perfectly defended on the screen and roll, forcing Jenkins to put up a tough 3-pointer over LaMarcus Aldridge as time expired.
Coach Mark Jackson was pleased with Jenkins’ performance but made it clear there is a pecking order at the position. “We have Steph Curry and Nate Robinson,” Jackson said postgame. “That’s our starting point guard who plays the bulk of the minutes and Nate Robinson is the backup. Charles Jenkins is a guy we have a tremendous trust in. It won’t be Jenkins-Sanity, but he’s a guy that’s more than capable of going out and doing the job and we’re pleased with his progress.”
SLAM and several other reporters had a chance to visit with Jenkins in the visitor locker room. He was disappointed with the loss and modest about his contribution.
What happened on that last play?
Charles Jenkins: It was drawn up for me to come off of a screen, but they switched it and LaMarcus Aldridge—his arms are very long. There was no way I could get the shot off with that little bit of time, so that was a tough play.
The last three you took was pretty wide open, is that a case of being tired?
CJ: Pretty wide open? [Laughs] I wouldn’t say pretty wide open. LaMarcus Aldridge made it a really tough shot. I couldn’t really get that shot off and in there. Things like that happen and luckily my teammates are very supportive of me and told me to let tonight go and learn from it, so I’m happy about that.
Was there a point early on when you hit a shot and started to feel it?
CJ: I wouldn’t say that. This is the NBA, no matter what you do on one end there’s going to be somebody that’s going to come down and bring the same thing back to you. Once you score you have to worry about getting back and getting a stop.
Will your teammates let you put that backpack down after tonight’s performance?
Most definitely not. I’m still a rookie and I still got to learn. So I definitely will be sporting a backpack.
How much does your confidence grow after a night like this?
CJ: I have people on my team that can score. The opportunity presented to me to take open shots and that’s what I did. Tonight coach told me to be a little more aggressive and I got it going a little bit and was able to take more shots than normal. Luckily they were falling in tonight but unfortunately we didn’t win so definitely can’t celebrate how well I played if we didn’t finish with a victory.
Do you think there are more starts in your future?
CJ: I’m just enjoying the opportunity to get on the floor with these guys. I’ve had the ability to learn from guys like Nate Robinson and Steph Curry. These are guys I see every day and talk to all the time. I had the opportunity to come out and be aggressive like coach wanted me to be. I took advantage of it and was prepared because I come in and watch film—I try to be the first one there to work on my game as well as watching guys like Nate and Steph. I’m going to continue to be the rookie and learn.
Was there a time during the season when you thought a night like tonight might not be possible this year?
CJ: Never. Nate told me when he got here to continue to do what got you to the NBA. As aggressive as I was tonight, that’s exactly how I was in college. If I continue to believe in myself and coach is able to trust me that I make good decisions and call plays for me, I’ll be able to step into it because I’ve practiced it so long and have been that player. At the same time, on a team with so many great offensive scorers that can create for themselves, I can easily pass the ball to any of my teammates and they can make a play. Everybody is in this League for a reason. I’m comfortable in my role as a facilitator and if I have a chance to take an open shot, I’ll take it.