The Collective Growth Of Giannis and Jabari


324 days. It had been 324 days since Jabari Parker last played basketball before making his season debut this past Wednesday night after suffering a torn ACL during a mid-December game against the Phoenix Suns last season.

Even after looking at that number, it feels like more than almost a year has gone by since Parker went down with his injury.

For one, almost half of the entire Bucks team that started out with the team left due to either being traded, released or left the NBA entirely at some point last season, with a few more players added to that list after a very busy off-season.

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And two, the Bucks carved out an improbable identity since Parker went down last year as a defensive-oriented/grind it out-type team on the backs of unlikely names along with their promising and athletic rising stars (To be fair, the Bucks were tenth in defensive efficiency around the league before Parker’s injury, per

With everything considered, it’s fair to say Parker’s injury was definitely a catalyst for not only what the team looks like now, but also what some of the players look like now with no one other than Giannis Antetokounmpo being the shining example.

Even with the small sample size from what we’ve seen of Giannis this far into the season, it’s quite incredible how far he’s come in the last eighteen months.

Sep 29, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks players Jabari Parker (left) and Giannis Antetokounmpo pose for a picture during media day at the Cousins Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it’s the effect that coach Jason Kidd has had on him since coming to Milwaukee or just how much he’s gotten better, but both factors have played a big part in the growth of his game. Of course, he’s also had a lot of time playing basketball not just with the Bucks, but playing internationally as part of the Greek national team the last two summers.

It’s not to say that all of this wouldn’t come to pass for Giannis since being drafted by the Bucks in 2013, but the consensus was always that it was more down the road to expect this type of performance from him than where he is now.

Even though it’s been almost a year, it’s interesting looking back at how the Bucks’ front office reacted post-Parker injury. You couldn’t classify it as a “tear down” exactly, given the success the team would go on to continue to have last year, but there was undoubtedly a shift in their thinking.

The shocking decision to trade the team’s leading scorer at the time, Brandon Knight, at the deadline last season and the departures of many veterans have really opened the door for the Giannis to take another leap, with hopefully Jabari (and others) soon to follow once he fully gets back into the groove of things.

With that said, it’s hard to not play the ‘what if?’ game regarding Parker’s injury.

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It was devastating to see Parker fall to his injury last year and we still don’t know how much of an effect that will have on his game, but would we still be seeing the Giannis from this year if not for the injury? Would Khris Middleton be where he is? Would Knight still be on the team? Would Greg Monroe sign with Milwaukee this past Summer?

There’s an endless amount of ripple effects that Parker’s injury could have an effect the team’s transactions within the last year, but the Bucks haven’t strayed from the course of emphasizing their youth movement as being the way to (hopefully) true success down the road.

The team had two dynamic forces in both their forward spots once upon a time with Glenn Robinson and Vin Baker (not making the comparison mind you), but the lack of team success as well as personal circumstances eventually came into play for the departure of Baker.

But this time around looks to be very different.

Next: Greg Monroe: The Fourth Quarter Factor

It’s been incredible to experience Giannis’ play so far this season, but the true test will be how much he and Parker can grow together. The door is open for them to grow together and hopefully they reach the level of being the lethal dynamic duo that all Bucks fans hope they can be.