The 2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks were one of the worst iterations of the franchise fans have ever seen. Led by Brandon Knight, Ramon Sessions, and O.J. Mayo, these Bucks finished with an awful 15-67 record qualifying them for a lottery pick in the next draft. Luckily for Milwaukee, during the lottery the team was granted the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. With this pick, the Milwaukee Bucks selected, Jabari Parker out of Duke University.
Parker only played one season in college but played so well that any team in the NBA would have taken him with the number two pick. The number one pick that year, Andrew Wiggins. Guys like Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Clint Capela were taken later in this draft but nobody expected them to be better than Jabari Parker. Parker was seen as the most NBA ready prospect, ready to contribute from day one, and even drew comparisons to future Hall of Famer, Carmelo Anthony.
During his rookie season, tragedy struck Parker as he tore his ACL after only 25 games. However, in those 25 games, he impressed the city of Milwaukee with his great athleticism and ability to put the ball in the basket. Even as he was recovering from the torn ACL, Bucks fans were still excited to crown Jabari Parker as the future of the team.
During the next two seasons, Jabari Parker showed why the Bucks drafted him with the number two overall pick. From 2015 through 2017, Parker averaged 16.5 points per game while shooting 49.2% from the field and 34.7% from three. He also grabbed 5.6 rebounds per game and dished our 2.1 assists. The only issue with Jabari was his inability to play any sort of effective defense but the Bucks overlooked this aspect of his game because he was a young player who could always improve. In 2016-17, Giannis Antetokounmpo had his breakout season and along with Jabari Parker, the future was extremely bright in Milwaukee. They were considered one of the most exciting young teams in the league.
With high expectations going into the 2017-18 season, Jabari Parker could not deliver. He was having a down year while battling injuries and it even came to the point where Jabari was demoted to coming off the bench. In what can only be assumed as a comment made out of frustration, in 2018, Jabari said that teams don’t pay him to play defense. He basically said all teams care about when it comes to him is his offensive ability and that defense doesn’t matter. That comment was essentially the end of Jabari’s career in Milwaukee.
In the 2018 offseason, the Bucks decided not to re-sign Parker in more of a mutual agreement. In response, Jabari then signed with the Chicago Bulls on a very lucrative deal. However, it did not work well in Chicago considering Jabari was the same player and the combo of him and LaVine defensively could never work. For the Bulls, Jabari averaged 14.3 points per game to go along with 6.2 rebounds but his defensive rating was the worst it has ever been. These factors led Chicago to trade Jabari along with other pieces to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Otto Porter.
With Washington, Parker averaged 15 and 7 in an efficient way but the Wizards opted to not bring Jabari back this past offseason. That is when he redacted his comment about defense and released a public statement letting teams know that he does, in fact, care about how he plays defensively. After his public statement, the Atlanta Hawks signed Parker to join their young core for the 2019-20 season.
Jabari Parker is only 24-years old but it feels like he’s already been in the NBA for a lifetime. Either way, with the Hawks, Parker has been playing the most efficient, offensively and defensively, ball of his career. So far this season, Jabari Parker has played in 32 games (started 23 of them) for the Hawks. He is averaging 15.0 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists, and even 1.3 steals per game. He also had the second highest PER of his career and is on pace to have the most defensive win shares of his career. Parker has fit nicely next to superstar, Trae Young, and is a big reason Trae is averaging 8.4 assists per game.
With the way Parker has been playing for the Hawks, as well as being a fan favorite, it looks like Jabari has found a home in Atlanta. As a Bucks fan, this is great news because nobody wanted to see one of the games best young players fizzle out. Jabari always has and continues to be a very entertaining player which is perfect for a market like Atlanta. It’s nice to see Parker on a team that can deal with his flaws but also enjoy his highlights. Who knows, if Jabari keeps playing like he has in Atlanta, who says he couldn’t have just revived his career and will play another 10 years?