The 73 Game Jabari Parker Story

After defeating the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards, the Milwaukee Bucks have replaced a five game losing streak with back-to-back wins. The early concern this season for Milwaukee fans has been about Jabari Parker’s future. Which, well, hasn’t been exactly what the fans had hoped for until recently.

While fans have griped this entire season about how Parker won’t be able to play on the Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo — same position, bad defense, neither can shoot the basketball efficiently — he’s grown a pretty bad reputation across the Bucks’ fan base. It’s certainly premature to reach conclusions on Parker’s career, even though he hasn’t played with the consistency that you’d like to see out of the future of your franchise.

While it’s painfully obvious that Parker will need to improve his defense and raise his jump shot to reach levels the Bucks had hoped for when drafting him second overall at last year’s draft, it’s forgotten he’s essentially still in his rookie season. At the 25 game mark last year, Parker tore his ACL and had to miss the remainder of his debut season. Parker has since returned and only played a total of 73 games in his NBA career. With that being said, Parker is doing pretty much exactly what you’d expect from him during a rookie season — especially when you consider he has returned from a torn ACL.

While Jabari Parker is still getting up to speed, it’s unfair to toss around the word “bust” as long as Milwaukee’s announcers continue to say things like, “ugh oh… oh no. Is he okay?” each time that Parker hits the ground and doesn’t spring up with no fatigue or any emotion worn on his face.

It’s absolutely mind-boggling that you could call an athlete with Parker’s ceiling a “bust”, or simply “not good” when he hasn’t even played an entire season. In fact, it’s too early to label anybody from that draft regardless of how good they are or what their ceilings were coming out of college. If he were a rookie this season, he’d be third, or maybe fourth, in the Rookie of the Year voting — Towns, Porzingis, Okafor — while coming off an injury that ends player’s careers.

It’s undeniable at this moment that Jabari is struggling, but now is the time to buy his NBA stock. Expectations are dropping off, the Bucks season has been a disaster, and they’re out of the playoff picture. Parker has an opportunity to really focus on getting up to speed and showing his improvement he can make from this point forward until his first game next season.

Parker doesn’t look as bad to me as most people are suggesting. Now, I’ll admit that I’m not an avid Bucks basketball fan, but I do have NBA League Pass and have probably caught anywhere between 10-15 Jabari Parker games.

You can’t watch the box score to understand where Parker is at on his All-Star projectile, but for what it’s worth, here is a link of his game log this season.

Over Parker’s last 10 games his splits are 34.6 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, .516 FG%

What the box score statistics don’t show is that Parker isn’t back to his top athleticism yet and he is still finishing with thundering dunks over the top of opposing defenders. His athleticism is scary for his body type and he’s impossible to judge based on his appearance and current health. Physically Jabari might be back to normal, but he hasn’t completely overcame the mental edge of returning from injury, as he was once fearless while attacking. As word is getting around the league that Jabari Parker is for real, the lane is clearing more often when he has a head of steam moving towards the basket.

The box score doesn’t show that Parker has an elite ability to drive the basketball to the cup. Parker has success moving towards the basket because of his great guard skills that he possesses for a player at his position. He’s able to beat defenders off of the dribble repeatedly with crafty moves that you’d expect from a Carmelo Anthony or Paul Pierce type in their heyday.

At the age of 20, Parker is already a problem around the basket because of a mature post-up game that he showcases with a series of finishing moves that have been his bread and butter since middle school AAU tournaments. Parker’s abnormal strength separates him from other players of his position and this allows him an advantage on defenders regardless of where he is on the floor.

The point I’m making is that as long as Parker begins to grow back into himself and develop a stronger shooting game he’s going to become a star in this league. Parker shows flashes of brilliance during games and once he finds himself he’s going to be a problem for opposing teams beyond them matching up with his awkward bully body.

Parker will never find himself in the conversation for winning the Defensive Player of the Year, but a player with his offensive ceiling isn’t worth the risk of trading away because you don’t think he is going to pan out after this little amount of time. On the flip side, if you’re Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or a team with a mega-stash of assets you overpay for Parker if the opportunity is there because Parker is absolutely blossom into a star within the next two seasons.

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