Read why we think Jabari Parker’s potential is still reachable – Photo Credit: Bucks Gallery.
When the Milwaukee Bucks selected Jabari Parker second overall in the 2014 NBA draft, after only playing one year at Duke, many thought and expected him to be their franchise player right off the bat because he was such a highly touted prospect coming out of college and high school. In 25 games Parker was leading all rookies averaging 12 points, 5.5 rebounds and a field goal percentage of 49 a game until an ACL tear ended his season. Now post-injury, Parker has been looked at as an afterthought and even a disappointment on a disappointing Bucks team because he is not meeting a lot of those early expectations that many gave him when he was drafted. Now teaming up with individually talented teammates like Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greg Monroe, is Jabari Parker, the second overall pick a disappointment and not the franchise guy?
Comparing the numbers of his rookie season to this season he has either improved in some categories or digressed (keep in mind he has played in far more many games this season). Since last season he has significantly improved his free throw shooting from 69.7 percent to 79 percent. Also he has dropped his turnover rate by one. As far as his stats that have gone down it has been his scoring which is 11 points and rebounding which is 4.6, both have gone down by one since last season. The emergence of Monroe and Giannis could be a factor because they have been both notable scorers and rebounders this season.
Even though the season hasn’t gone as planned the question can be asked if Jabari has to be that franchise guy who is proficient at scoring and defense. The answer to that is yes and no. Of course yes because the Bucks are seriously lacking offense especially shooting, and defense, especially on the perimeter. Coming into his NBA career, defense was and still is a spot where Parker seriously lacks as he doesn’t stick out as being very athletic, especially now after he tore his ACL. Don’t get wrong Jabari is an athletic player but he seems to lack that compared to exceptional defensive players who are similar in size and experience such as Andrew Wiggins and Kawhi Leonard. When he was drafted he was highly touted in his high school and college days for being a guy who can score either through his jump-shot or his ability to attack the rim. This season he is often looked at as the fourth and even fifth biggest scoring threat on the starting lineup. Going back to the question, no but only currently. Right now he doesn’t have to be that franchise guy because of his teammates who can score and play defense. Again, the Bucks are seriously lacking scoring and they are suffering in the standing because of that but players such as Giannis and Monroe can have those high scoring games and having three players score over 20 points a game isn’t always necessary. He will have to become that as he gains more experience in the NBA to validate his selection in the draft and the Bucks franchise as a whole.
Many believe his ACL tear is why his production is below expectations this year, but that’s only one of a couple reasons. An ACL tear is one of the most devastating injuries an athlete can suffer because it prohibits that athlete to go 100 percent ever again. They will never be as quick, explosive and will always burden that psychological aspect of a serious injury than what they were before the injury. Now consider that it happened during his rookie year which is the most crucial developmental period for an NBA player. Technically Jabari is still a rookie because he hasn’t had the experience or burden of a full NBA schedule under his belt. He is a rookie who is rehabbing from an ACL tear, which carries those burdens mentioned before. Now let’s look at his age itself. Hardly any players below or of the age of 20 are instantly superstars because the human body is still physically and mentally developing, especially athletes. Andrew Wiggins is putting up big numbers in Minnesota because he hasn’t been injured, has more of a physical upside than Parker and the Timberwolves do not have many scoring options. Parker is playing alongside capable scorers so he does not have to put up superstar numbers but in the time he has played he’s put up solid numbers. Yes shooting and mostly his defense can immensely improve but that’s what experience, time and physical development will do to any athlete. Give him time and through his experience he will become his expectations.