Jabari Parker is viewed as a core player for the organization moving forward, meaning his development is crucial to the success of the organization in the near future. A player’s development really starts to be judged in their third season in the league, so Jabari’s play this season will lead to some conclusions from the sports media world. Considering he missed most of his rookie season to a torn ACL, he may bloom a little later than most star players, so I don’t view this season as a make or break year for him. Never the less, here’s an update on his progression this season.
- Three-point shooting: Jabari has had his shooting restrictions lifted, and he’s shooting a career high 37% on three attempts per game. Every time he pulls up for a three, not hit one, the fan base should cheer like we did on his draft day. Adding this to his game opens driving lanes, so he can attack the rim as he so likes to do. It’s pretty crucial for the hopes of him becoming a star.
- Aggressiveness: With the injury to Khris Middleton, the Bucks needed Jabari to try become more aggressive to make up for some of the playmaking and points lost with Khris. Jabari is taking four more shot attempts a game this season which has resulted in an additional four points per game, as he sits at 18.6.
- Iso Scoring: For the few first games of the season, Jabari was trying to find his way playing within the offense, mostly trying to score rolling after setting a screen. It wasn’t working, so Jason Kidd allowed him the opportunity to score with the ball in his hands and his four teammates doing their best to keep their defender too far away to provide help defense. Like it or not, he’s at his best playing some hero ball.
- Initiating Offense: When Jabari is on the floor without Giannis, Coach Kidd has experimented with him initiating the offense. His assist numbers have minorly gone up so far, this season. Jabari has a very soft touch on his passes, and despite his scoring instincts, he keeps his teammates in mind. This could be an area where Jabari eventually dominates, and the Bucks will have another playmaker they can go to in case of injury.
- Not drawing fouls: Jabari’s offensive progress has been encouraging, but his biggest issue has been his inability to draw a foul, averaging just four free throw attempts per game. Many of the great scorers around the league rely on getting to the line, so this is one of his big development question marks. If he can take a page out of James Harden’s book, how are you going to guard him?
- Defensive Struggles: He’s never been known as a strong defender, and that trend continues this season. With most young scoring prospects, you question their effort on defense first, but not Jabari. He tries hard to fulfill his role on the defensive end. That’s what’s so concerning, he tries to close out on defenders, jump into passing lanes, judge the ball coming off the rim for a rebound. Things just rarely pan out for him. I believe in his work ethic, so I trust he’ll improve, but he just lacks the instincts to be an impact player on the defensive end.
The early part of the season has been up and down for the young forward. He is very dependent on the mid-range jumper, which hurts his efficiency. Jabari is averaging 18.6 points per game on a hefty 15.6 shots. Jabari has an old-school game, which doesn’t get talked about enough with regards to his efficiency. His efficiency needs to be compared to the post players of the league. Take Hassan Whiteside for instance, he’s averaging 17.8 points a game on 13.3 shots. He and Jabari are similar, but Hassan doesn’t get the knock for being inefficient. Fortunately, Jabari is adding the three-point shot to his game, so it won’t be long until we can compare him to his wing counterparts. The team relies on Jabari to score points, and for right now he’s best off doing that inefficiently.
Jabari has improved his play from last season, and that’s all we can really ask from him. He’s shown flashes of stardom this year. The flashes are usually shown in his isolation opportunities. Jabari is most dangerous for the opponent when he faces up, especially when the opponent’s top defender is stuck on Giannis. He can drive right past his defender and finish strong, stop and pull up for a jumper, and score with an unorthodox, mid-step push shot. As his confidence grows, his numbers will gradually improve, but it looks like Jabari has progressed enough this year, that we can hope for a break out season from him next year.