DALLAS, TX — Experts say it usually takes an NBA player a full year to recover from a major knee injury.
If that theory is true, the roller coaster season Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker has had will more than likely continue.
This time last year, Parker’s rookie year was over right as it was getting started thanks to a season-ending knee injury suffered against the Phoenix Suns. Now, the second-year man is trying to regain the form which made him the second pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, while also trying to help the struggling Bucks (12-21) turn things around.
“[The knee] feels pretty good. We are off to a slow start personally and with our team, but I think down the line we will get better and improve,” Parker told Today’s Fastbreak.
Since making his season debut on Nov. 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Parker has shown glimpses of being the promising young player he was developing into before the injury, but he’s also looked a step slow at times.
All one has to do is look at the numbers to see the kind of seesaw Parker is on. After failing to crack double figures in his first four games of the season, Parker went on a stretch of scoring double figures in 18 of 20 games, only to struggle again over the last week or so.
Despite going through the ups and downs that accompany being a young player coming back from a major injury, many of the Bucks core players have the ultimate confidence Parker will find his way in the NBA.
“[Jabari] is an outstanding scorer, great slasher and very athletic player,” Bucks center Greg Monroe said. “As long as he continues to get better and be aggressive, that’s probably the most important thing he needs to do. He needs to continue learning because he missed a lot of his rookie year, so there’s some things he is still learning, but he’s definitely heading in the right direction.”
“He had a great summer rehab of getting his body together, as well as his knee,” Bucks guard O.J Mayo said. “You can see the payoff now. You can see it in his explosiveness, the way he moves up and down the floor; he’s looking great.”
During Parker’s recent struggles, he’s averaged just 6.6 points over his last three games while shooting only 21 percent from the field. It’s no coincidence that Milwaukee lost all three games and dropped to 3-15 on the road in the process. With two more games coming on their current road trip (at Indiana on New Year’s Eve and at Minnesota on Saturday night), the Bucks need Parker to revert to his productive form.
When Parker’s productive and active on both ends of the court, things tend to flow better for the struggling Bucks, who’ve been one of the biggest disappointments of the season after a surprise playoff appearance last year.
“[Jabari] makes everybody’s job easier because he draws a lot of attention, which makes our job easier,” Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “When he is changing the defense’s rotation, I can cut easier, which makes it easier to get a shot. Overall, when he is playing well it makes everything easier and helps us to win more games.”