Today’s Fastbreak columnist Joseph Nardone would like to see Jabari Parker start to break out of his shell now that he’s healthy following ACL surgery last season.
Jabari Parker played poorly in Milwaukee’s win over Phoenix on Sunday, but over the last 10 games he’s mostly played solid. In those 10 games, Parker averaged over 12 points on over 48 percent shooting from the floor. Oddly enough, the Bucks went 4-6 in those games.
Those aren’t numbers which should be directly correlated. Milwaukee isn’t losing games because Parker is playing better. Nor are they winning games when he plays awful. It’s merely one of those weird hiccups in the numbers that present itself from time to time. Plus, you know, Milwaukee hasn’t exactly set the world on fire at any point during the season, as they currently sit with an 11-18 record.
That said, we’re still very early in the Jabari Parker as a member of the Bucks era. Still only 20 years old, Parker has shown some flashes this season despite missing time with an injury and missing most of last year with a torn ACL. That’s the good news.
His numbers are actually slightly down from his rookie campaign, though. Nothing too earth-shattering, but so far he’s scoring 10.8 points per game on 48 percent shooting in the 2015-16 season. None of which is a serious problem, especially given the injury he came back from. However, there are areas of concern for the second-year potential stud.
While former draft-fodder running-mate Andrew Wiggins is doing impressive things in Minnesota, Parker isn’t putting up gaudy box score numbers or — as importantly — been as aggressive as Wiggins. Or, really, any player which a franchise hopes would one day lead them to a better future.
Parker is only taking 9.9 attempts at the basket per game this season. That’s not a lot. While Wiggins and Parker are both shooting below 30 percent from three, with Parker at an especially dreadful 20 percent, at least Wiggins is trying. Parker attempts 0.4 threes per game to Wiggins’s 1.8. When you couple in the fact that the latter is also attempting nearly 15 field goal attempts per game, it’s easy to see that Wiggins clearly wins a larger participation trophy than the former Duke Blue Devils star.
Again, none of this is incredibly alarming considering the circumstances. It only highlights how far ahead the supposedly less-ready-for NBA basketball Andrew Wiggins is at the moment. Proving, as per NBA Draft law, we know nothing about what we’re talking about when guys enter the draft.
With that being said, while without being compared to Wiggins, Parker needs to be more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor. Other than his ability to score, and his five boards per game, he isn’t exactly bringing a ton to the table. He’s not a transcendent guy on defense or setting guys up with fancy passes. His primary, if not sole purpose on the Bucks, is to be a bucket-making lunatic. Shooting under 10 times per game doesn’t do his team or his development any good.
With the Bucks seemingly not in any real place to be a threat down the road, coupled with Jason Kidd going the route of my grandmother and getting hip surgery, Parker should start to become selfish. Seriously selfish. Getting up between 13-17 shots per game. Heck, he should channel is inner-Jelly Bean Jr. and disregard notions of being a team player.
Okay, (slightly) kidding with that last part. But in all seriousness, sometimes it’s okay to be selfish. Often, as is the case with Parker, it’s a needed trait to enhance abilities. Building some confidence through numbers is okay. I swear it. It could help Parker better find his basketball personality, as he’s closer to being a teenager than a finished product.
That’s the biggest aspect of all of this, too: Parker is only 20 years-old. Comparing him to the more advanced Wiggins at this point in their careers, while also mostly ignoring Parker’s injuries over the last two seasons, would be doing so while avoiding nuance and context. Even if the two will be forever linked, Parker’s value as a player — whatever it’ll inevitably end up being — won’t be because of Andrew Wiggins. It’ll be because Jabari Parker develops into whatever finished product he ends up becoming.
The other glaring issues within Parker’s game outside his attempts at buckets are a bit alarming, although much of his inability to shoot threes, defend better, or whatever else, can be explained away with his lacking time to develop on the court. In fact, as I spent the majority of this column making Wiggins look better than Parker in their careers up until this point, Parker has been a far more efficient player. While Wiggins is certainly the more aggressive of the two, Parker has an effective field goal percentage of 49 to Wiggins’s mere 45 percent.
Regardless, this is merely some food for thought on a guy who isn’t even close to being either good or bad enough to make declarative statements on. At least not yet. When he’s old enough to drink booze in a bar however…HOT TAKES!