Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Guy

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The Milwaukee Bucks’ offseason has gotten off to a great start. The coaching search is thankfully over and the Bucks got the consensus number one guy on the market when they signed Coach Mike Budenholzer. The NBA draft will soon be upon us but the biggest elephant in the room remains the same. What do we do with Jabari Parker?

Jabari is not a popular guy among many Milwaukee Bucks’ Twitter lifers. Heck, he is not even popular with Cream City Central’s editor. The reasons for this have been widely discussed on numerous occasions. His weaknesses include the following:

1)   He is a net-negative, based on defensive plus minus statistics and on basically every advanced metric system.

2)   He plays lackadaisical defense and is prone to huge lapses in concentration.

3)   He lacks great (or even basic?) court awareness.

4)   His body language is terrible when he pouts and seems to take plays off when things do not go well for him on offense.

5)   He plays the blame game on the court and sometimes clashes with teammates

6)   He is injury-prone and is just coming off his second left ACL-injury in 3 years.

At the risk of sounding too much of a homer, however, here are my reasons why the Bucks should re-sign Jabari Parker.

Eye-Test

Jabari Parker is a man’s man. At 6’8, 250 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, Jabari has the proto-typical body of a modern-day forward. Check that. He has the proto-typical GAME of a modern-day forward.

Even after returning from his second major injury, Jabari was able to showcase his athleticism with his various forays inside the paint. As the season went on and he became more confident with his knee, it became apparent that he’s still able to move fast on his feet and rise above the ring with ease.

Interestingly, Jabari has also shown improvement with his three-point stroke as he finished with an impressive 38.3% from behind the arc. Excluding his first two seasons in the league when he was essentially barred from shooting from 3s by his coach, the two succeeding seasons point to a player who can catch and shoot from beyond the arc with great success.

Jabari has likewise been pretty much an automatic 15-point-5-rebound guy whenever he’s given minutes on the court. With offensive prowess becoming more and more valuable in the league, there is no reason to think he cannot maintain, or even surpass his output moving forward.

Players who tear their ACL, also show much better results in the second year of their recovery. Still only 22 years old, Jabari should only get better with more experience under his belt. 

Coaching and Game Repetitions

Jabari was not able to see eye to eye with his previous coaches. While lack of effort and focus are solely attributable to him, it seems clear in hindsight, that he and the team weren’t exactly put in ideal positions to succeed.

On Defense, the frantic blitzing and help-the-helper defense employed by Coach Kidd throughout his tenure had its ups and downs. Unfortunately for Jabari, it often exposed his many different faults and weaknesses. The more conservative defensive approach under Coach Prunty, where Bigs sagged into the paint on Pick and Rolls, did show that Jabari was somewhat decent when he’s left to guard his man straight up or if he could go under screens and track his man. Games 3 to 6 of the Boston series also showed that Jabari can flourish when he can play in a switching defense, where his lack of court awareness can’t be exposed as he simply matches up with the closest offensive player.

On Offense however, Jabari was able to show throughout the season that he can put the ball in the hoop in myriad ways. He can pull up from 3, cut and slash effectively, and play way above the ring. He too, was able to grab offensive rebounds outside of his space in the few times that he was engaged and focused on crashing the boards.

The arrival of Coach Budenholzer is a godsend for Jabari. A coach who can play to his strengths will allow Jabari to shine in a modern offense.  Coach Bud will be able to simplify defensive reads and will be able to teach him proper timing on cuts and when to space well for his teammates. This is especially true when he is sharing the floor with his superstar teammate, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Furthermore, despite his increased efficiency from outside, coach Bud should be able to find more ways to give Jabari the ball on his way to the hoop as his Bully-Ball attacks can prove to be a great complement to 4-out, non-Giannis lineups. Unleashing pick and roll plays with either Brogdon or Middleton initiating the plays should produce mismatches if Jabari is able to pick up on how guys like Melo, LeBron and even Middleton are able to pin smaller guards on their backs after screens.

A good coach can utilize a sweet shooting, power player like Jabari and elevate his game on both ends of the floor. A great one can turn him into a championship-contending complement.

 Big Picture

 It’s easy to give up on Jabari as he has always been a negative in his short tenure with the Bucks. Nevertheless, the team simply cannot give up on a 22-year-old player with this much talent. More importantly, should the Bucks lose Jabari for nothing, the Bucks would still be capped out and will not be able to add a player of his caliber with the midlevel exception.

Fortuitously, the Bucks have the right to match any offer that comes Jabari’s way. With his up and down performance in the playoffs, coupled with his two ACL-injuries, he is highly unlikely to land a max or near-max contract from any team. Viewed in this light, the Bucks should be able to retain a high scoring forward for what would ultimately be a much lower salary than what could be expected for a player like him.

Jabari pessimists should at least see some value in retaining him. At worst, Jabari Parker can bring back a decent role player via sign and trade this offseason. In the alternative, he could become a great trade piece (with his low contract) down the road.

These are my reasons for why Jabari will end up signing a contract with Milwaukee.

Need one more?

Giannis said he is not going anywhere. Let’s go Bucks!

 

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