Jabari Parker should be the NBA’s top rookie this season. (uwmpost.com)
Heading into the season, the second pick in this year’s draft looks primed for big things. It has been a long time since the Bucks have been in conversations about up and coming teams — and draft pick Jabari Parker is a huge part of that. With a lot less distractions surrounding his first go round in the NBA than Andrew Wiggins, the 6′8″ Blue Devil product can slide right into the starting lineup at small forward for a Milwaukee team desperately looking for a shot in the arm.
With the up tempo style Coach Jason Kidd is known to implement, Parker is certainly going to get a ton of shots a game. The slightly beefy Parker will need to condition himself properly for 82 games or he will burn himself out trying to keep pace. With the clear path, tempo, and following, he should get all the minutes his legs can take. Another advantage Parker has in playing under Kidd is that he will be taught the importance of constantly improving his skills and how to keep the game at your pace no matter how frequently the offense pushes it.
Last year in Durham, Parker was named USBWA Freshman of the Year after finishing first in the ACC in rebounds per game (8.7) and second in points per game (19.1) and efficiency rating. Paul Pierce comes to mind when we watch him on the floor. Parker may not be the fastest player and he’s certainly not the strongest, but at the end of the game he puts up a solid line. Over the summer he averaged 15.6 points, 8.2 board, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting just under 42 per cent — which is not horrendous when you figure that once he’s in the NBA, at least a third of those shots will be taken by teammates, so his percentages will be better. More importantly, Parker looked like an NBA player among prospects (see video below).
Speaking of teammates, with Parker combining with Giannis “Alphabet” Antetokounmpo, it will make for a very lethal combo for teams trying to pack it in. Both can take the D off the dribble and put back missed opportunities around the rim. If these guys develop jump shots, it could get very interesting in the Bradley Center.
Let’s be honest here, hopefully the excitement Parker stirs within the fan base pushes ownership to build a new facility. For Christ’s sake, Sidney Moncrief was still playing when they last made adjustments. Parker’s following from Chicago bodes well for the attendance this season, so the Bucks will pretty much be starting him from the first game on. Between The Greek Freak and Parker, sales from last season should spike. At some point it will sink in that new digs are needed.
It is interesting to see the different situations the two tops picks are in; top pick Wiggins is not even certain to have a starting gig and his name was in the media constantly tied to being dealt once his 30-day contractual clause is over (and sure enough, where there was smoke, there was fire in this situation). Second pick Parker, however, is being embraced as a top star that the team cannot wait to grow with. We’re not trying to say he will carry them to the championship — or even to many more wins than the league-worst 15 the Bucks managed last season. We just think the team, with the addition of Parker, is headed in a successful direction.
As for Fantasy, we are all in on Parker. There is just too much to like to not think he will be a factor immediately in all formats. In a redraft league, we are probably not going to own him because we do not think paying for seventh or eighth round value in the fourth round is conducive to being successful. Also, Parker’s shooting percentage and lack of blocks, assists and threes takes away some value in a Roto league. We just think there are many more players out there who do more across the board that should be targeted that early in the draft.
In a keeper league, we think grabbing Parker in the fourth or fifth round is a great route to take. You are getting a guy that can come into the season averaging 16-to-18 points, 6.5 boards and a steal as a rookie. As long as he plays like he’s capable, there is nothing stopping Parker from being a stud for many years to come. Like all rookies, he will hit the dreaded wall, as he learns how to adjust and play within the game, but by season’s end, he has a very solid shot to be a top 75 player.
Follow Steve on Twitter @Top_Balling.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below what you expect out of Parker this season.
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