Jabari Parker seemed destined for stardom when he entered the league in the 2014 draft. But, a myriad of injuries accompanied by a poor attitude have plagued Parker since his rookie season. The Bucks let Parker walk during the 2018 off-season and he signed with his hometown Bulls He completely fell out of the rotation there, and then was shipped to Washington where he capped a pretty disappointing season.
Parker is difficult as a player; he fills that Jeff Green role of a guy who is probably the most athletic and talented player on the floor most nights, but there are just aspects of his game that never/rarely show up. On paper he’s a tremendous player, but then you would watch him play and see all of these glaring deficiencies. After 5 seasons I figured Jabari was who he was, and he’d spend the majority of the next couple of years on one-year deals bouncing from team to team; tumbling into the abyss of an NBA journeyman.
This year is different.
Jabari Parker has bought into the Hawks system and is showcasing himself in the spot opened up by John Collins’ suspension.
Parker has never, and I repeat NEVER been a willing defender and earlier in his career spoke on how he didn’t care about defense (he certainly didn’t need to say it to show it). He’s a guy who has always been physically capable of being an above average defender. While his injuries have sapped him of some of his defensive potential, he is putting together the most promising defensive stretch I’ve ever seen from him.
He’s hustling, he boxes out, he routinely closes out on shooters, and he even provides solid help defense. He can ball watch at times, but the fact that he even pays attention on this side of the court melts my heart. He actively communicates on team D as he calls out screens and cuts, which is an extremely underrated part of a player’s defensive impact.
He’s there. He’s engaged. No, he’s not amazing, but he’s trying and that’s all he needs to do.
Jabari is also showing an improved shot selection, cutting down on poor midrange shots while using his size to bully his defenders on drives to the rim and score easy buckets in the paint. He’s also near the top of the league in dunks this year, taking it to the rack with authority.
He’s also on pace to shoot the most threes he ever has. While he’s not exactly torching from down town (28.9%), he’s firing it willingly and his shot will more than likely start to fall with regularity.
Across six starts since he entered the starting lineup, he’s averaged 22 points and 8 rebounds while shooting 55% from the field; a phenomenal stat line.
And it’s not just in stats. For the first time in his NBA career, Parker is a positive for his team on the court. He is contributing to winning basketball and doing the little things that don’t show up in the box score.
Yes, we’re only 11 games into the season. Maybe this is an overreaction, but I don’t think so and I definitely hope not.
Parker may never be the star we thought he could be, but he has breathed life into his career.