In a highly-anticipated move, the Milwaukee Bucks used their second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft on 6-8 Duke forward Jabari Parker.
During his lone season with the Blue Devils, Parker nearly averaged a double-double with 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Because of that extremely impressive stat-line, Parker was Consensus First-Team All-American and runner-up for the John Wooden Player of the Year Award.
While Parker was always considered to be a top-three pick, he was basically destined to end up with Milwaukee after Joel Embiid was sidelined with a major foot injury. During the lead-up to Thursday’s draft, there were a handful of rumors circulating regarding Parker’s interest in becoming a Milwaukee Buck.
Despite the duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton currently holding down the small forward position, Parker could still be a fantastic fit within the Bucks roster because of his amazing versatility. At 6-8, Parker has the unique ability to move with the quickness of a shooting guard despite having the overall build of the average power forward. Given his long, lanky frame, Parker was one of the more physically built prospects in this year’s draft, which allows him to muscle his way to the rim. He figures to see most of his minutes at power forward, with Antetokounmpo slotting in at small forward.
Even though his work as a penetrator is extremely impressive, Parker was firmly put into that upper-echelon because of his ability to score from any aspect of the court. While he will never be confused with Stephen Curry or Ray Allen, Parker is definitely an effective catch-and-shoot option because of his natural shooting touch. During his lone season at Duke, Parker was able to shoot an extremely effective 35 percent from beyond the arc, which is impressive for a 6’8 forward.
Besides his work in catch-and-shoot situations, Parker is able to effectively work in the pick-and-pop because of how he’s able to shoot off-the-dribble. With that in mind, he’s also able to use that athleticism to work around the PnR screen and work his way to the paint. While in the paint, Parker’s able to use all of his athletic abilities (size, strength and quickness) to be a pretty dependable post-up option.
While his abundance of offensive abilities will probably make him Milwaukee’s top scoring option, there’s still some roster questions that come with the Parker selection. Probably the most crucial issue would probably be his ability to play alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. While they play at similar positions, the duo could have still easily have separate roles within Larry Drew’s offensive system. On a handful of occasions during his rookie year, Antetokounmpo definitely showcased an ability to be a solid distributor. Besides Nate Wolters, Milwaukee doesn’t currently have a bonafide distributor, so it wouldn’t really be out of the question to see Antetokounmpo fill into that gap while Parker works as the main scoring threat.
Another one of the questions that rises with the Parker pick centers around the futures of Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson. At this point, Ilyasova seems to be extremely expendable, which would probably be to the benefit of Milwaukee because he still has two years and $16 million remaining on his contract. The issue will be finding a taker for that less-than-desirable contract. Meanwhile, Henson may have more trade value because of his lanky frame and promising offensive ability, but I think there’s still an opportunity for Henson to be an extremely beneficial asset for Milwaukee.
While there are still a handful of questions to ponder about Parker’s fit with Milwaukee and the potential roster moves that could transpire because of the selection, he’s still an amazing asset for the future of the team. Even though Milwaukee won’t instantly become a playoff contender because of Parker, the addition of a player with All-Star potential is an massive step in the right direction for the future of the Bucks organization.