The Milwaukee Bucks have lost 10 of their last 12 games. They are sitting with a record of 22-28 and are in 10th place in the East. We all know this. We have been reading for weeks how the Bucks are struggling to win games. But why? They have some very talented players at the top of their roster, they are one of the most athletic teams in the NBA, and they have shown that they can not only compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors of the league but also win. Hell, their only victory in their last eleven games was over the Houston Rockets! That is what makes this Milwaukee Bucks team so infuriating. They have shown they can compete with Houston, with Cleveland, with Oklahoma City but then they lose games to the 76ers (with and without Embiid) and Magic.
Right now the Milwaukee Bucks are a bad team and one major reason is their inability to rebound the basketball. They rank 20th in the NBA in Rebound Percentage and 20th in rebound differential at -0.7. They also allow a lot of second chance points because of those offensive rebounds. They are 26th in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage as well, bringing down only 75.3 percent of available defensive rebounds. I could continue to list statistic after statistic after statistic but I think you get the point. The Milwaukee Bucks are in the bottom third of almost every rebounding category you want to measure them by. I understand we aren’t talking awful rebounding numbers but the Bucks are without question a below average rebounding team. Friday night the Nuggets outrebounded the Bucks by 8, had 18 offensive rebounds, and 22 second chance points. Those are all game changing numbers. When I digest the game film I see Jabari Parker as a major reason why they struggle to rebound the basketball in an efficient manner. I break down the film and figure out exactly why Jabari is such an ineffective rebounder.
Looking at Jabari Parker on paper alone you would think that he is an above average rebounder. He has all the physical tools necessary including a wingspan at just a tad under 7 feet, great leaping ability, and a good rebounding body at 6’ 9” and 250 pounds. Jabari Parker has a Rebound Rate of 10.3 which ranks 58th out of 72 qualified players at the power forward position. Rebound Rate measure the percentage of missed shots a player rebounds. Also given that Jabari only averages 6.2 rebounds per game (and that number has jumped significantly since January started) I took to the film to help us understand why he’s one of the worst rebounding power forwards in the NBA.
The aspect of Parker’s game that sticks out like a white head pimple on your nose is his lack of effort to rebound the ball defensively. After a shot goes up he can be seen constantly just turning and watching the basketball instead of getting his thick frame on a defender. Based on the amount of spectating Jabari does I often get confused if he is actually a fan that was supposed to be sitting courtside but accidentally wandered onto the court (lame joke I know, get used to it). On film I watch shot after shot goes up where he literally just watches the ball. His man will then crash the boards and sometimes grab the ball for an easy bunny. He relies solely on his physical gifts to rebound the ball and not on the fundamentals of the game. This isn’t uncommon for a young player who has gotten to this point in his career based mostly off his pure physical tools and less because he is a fundamentally sound player. Jabari would increase his rebound rate immensely if he would turn and find his man, or any man for that matter, and use his 250 pound frame to box them out. After he puts his body on an opposing player he can THEN use his athleticism to go and get the ball.
I have also seen Jabari Parker get his hands on a few missed shots a game only to fail to secure the rebound for his team. The ball will hit Jabari in the hands and he is either not quick enough to react and grab the ball or a smaller defender will swipe the ball out of his hands before Jabari can secure it. The latter will come as Jabari continues to develop his fundamentals. As soon as he gets a hold of the ball he should immediately bring the ball high and tight which will disallow the smaller players to knock it loose. The area of his game where he can’t react fast enough to grab the ball confuses me. He sometimes looks like an uncoordinated 7th grader who doesn’t apprehend how to work his limbs yet. I have not quite figured this aspect out yet because Jabari is so silky smooth in other aspects of his game.
The Bucks have also been using Jabari Parker mainly as a perimeter defender. They have asked him to guard players who mostly play on the outside while putting Giannis on an opposing player who plays mostly around the basket. This has taken Jabari further away from the basket when the shots are going up obviously making it harder for him to grab rebounds. Taking Jabari away from the basket is an additional negative because with Parker’s bad habit of turning and watching he lacks aggressiveness when it comes to going out of his area to get the ball. Watching the film, very rarely did I see Jabari going out of his area to snatch a rebound.
With all of this being said Jabari has been rebounding the ball a heck of a lot better recently. He set a career high in the month of January averaging 6.8 rebounds per game. That should tell you a little something about how bad Jabari has been at rebounding the ball in his short tenure. He also tied his career high in rebounds in a game with 13 boards against the Raptors last Friday and grabbed another 11 Friday night against the Nuggets. I believe Friday nights rebounds against the Nuggets were more a factor of the amount of shots that went up and the number of opportunities for rebounds rather then Jabari actually having a good rebounding game. The Bucks offense depends tremendously on their ability to push the ball in transition and get easy buckets and that all starts with rebounding. In order for Jabari Parker, and ultimately the Milwaukee Bucks, to take the next step to superstardom, or even win a game, it comes down to one of the most overrated aspects of the game, rebounding the basketball.