When is Jabari Parker coming back? That is the question on every Milwaukee Bucks fan’s mind (and on the mind of our Eastern conference opponents).
Without Parker the Milwaukee Bucks were a formidable team and grit their way through the regular season, into the 6th seed in the playoffs, and almost came back from a 3-0 deficit to the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
Sure Parker was a rookie and maybe wouldn’t have made much of a difference but at the same time he was a solid player who was scoring well and getting a lot of rebounds on the court. He would have gotten better as the season wore on and could have provided an additional offensive spark to a team that needed it badly. Getting him back this year is going to be huge.Jabari Parker
(12). Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
When that return is coming is up for debate. Recently, a deleted tweet from one of Milwaukee’s senior trainers said Jabari may not return until January. Regardless of whether he returns a week into the season or a few months in, it is looking more likely that he will miss some game time. If that is the case what is the lineup going to look like without him on the floor and how effective will it be?
I project the starting lineup will look like this:
SG: O.J. Mayo
SF: Khris Middleton
C: Greg Monroe
This lineup looks really good. Offensively they would be strong. MCW running the point can get to the hoop and find the shooters (Khris and OJ), lob it up to Giannis on the break, and dump it down to Monroe in the half court. MCW, Khris, and Giannis are above average in creating their own shots in different ways while Monroe is a very effective shot creator.
Also having the half court offense run through Monroe will be awesome. He will have two proven NBA shooters on the wings giving him space to work while Giannis and Carter-Williams can cut to the hoop and be found for the easy layups. Adding Jabari and removing OJ from the lineup would also reduce the floor spacing.
Defensively this would be a strong unit too. They wouldn’t be able to switch as much as possible on the wings like when Middleton is running the two spot, Antetokoumpo is at the three, and Parker is on the block at the four but they still have some position flexibility with Khris, the Greek Freak, and to some extent MCW.
That positional flexibility will allow them to play defense like they did last season when they lost Jabari and then added MCW. Combine that with an offseason of Kidd’s tutelage and they may be even better defensively.
Jabari is athletically gifted but he was never going to be a world beater on defense so his loss doesn’t really change things defensively. Having Greg at center is like having a more athletic Zaza down there so that will not change how the defense operates either.
I actually think the starting lineup without Jabari will be really solid and win a lot of games. The offensive fire power that is Greg (Moose) Monroe will add the needed scoring punch and the defense should be just as good (if not better). When a team that was .500 last season gets a lot better on offense and stays a top 5 defense they will undoubtedly improve.
Another important aspect of not having Jabari starting is that Rashad Vaughn (Milwaukee’s first-round draft pick) should get some added playing time. With Mayo in the starting lineup Vaughn gets vaulted up to the first or second wing off the bench. This will throw the rookie into the fire to start the season and it will be a important audition for him to see what kind of impact he can make right out of the gate.
From watching Summer League Bucks fans can see this kid has a smooth jumper and can score in a variety of ways. Scoring like that against Summer League competition is one thing but doing it effectively off the bench in an NBA game is a whole other animal. Getting Vaughn some big minutes (15-25 a night) early and often to start the season will be great for coach Jason Kidd to see what he has with the rookie.
Milwaukee Bucks forwardDamien Inglis
during media day . Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Lastly, we will see more of Damien Inglis in games to start the season. Now Inglis was, to put it nicely, an eye sore in Summer League. To be fair he is still recovering from a foot injury that kept him out all of last season, so he is essentially a rookie.
Without Parker in the mix Inglis should see 10+ minutes a game at the three and four positions. He will also get to audition his talents in important games so Kidd can see just how useful he may be.
If the Bucks sign another wing player Inglis’ minutes may get cut but if they do not he could maybe even approach 20 minutes in some games since the Bucks have a lack of bodies. It wouldn’t do any favors for our bench unit’s effectiveness but it should be a good litmus test for what kind of potential (if any) Damien offers.
Jabari’s absence is definitely not a positive for the Bucks but I believe the team should be able to still win a lot of games while he misses time. I would expect this team to be over .500 without Parker because they have dramatically improved on offense while not sacrificing their defensive prowess.
Additionally, no Jabari means there is more playing time available for the young guns and getting to see what they are capable of in meaningful minutes can definitely help down the road later in the season and in the playoffs.
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