Stephen Curry Is Proof Enough That It’s Too Early To Give Up On Jabari Parker

December 18, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
December 18, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks have lost out by overreacting to injury concerns before. They can’t make the same mistake with Jabari Parker.

By now, the story is famous (or maybe infamous) in Milwaukee Bucks circles. Back in 2012, when the Bucks were set on moving Andrew Bogut out of Milwaukee, they were negotiating with the Golden State Warriors.

As the story goes, Stephen Curry was on the table for Milwaukee to get in exchange for Bogut (and Stephen Jackson). The Herb Kohl-led Bucks said no however, and instead wanted an established player like Monta Ellis.

Established being the key word there. Stephen Curry was far from established in 2012. He’d shown the ability to be a lights-out shooter already, but Curry had also shown that he had some injury problems.

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His ankle needed multiple surgeries that year, and many analysts proclaimed that Curry’s “glass ankles” would wash him out of the Association in a matter of years. Zach Lowe over at Grantland (RIP) wrote that not offering Curry any extension and letting him walk after his most injury-plagued season “was an option”.

And he wasn’t alone, or wrong at the time. One more serious ankle injury might’ve ruined Curry’s NBA career. He was seen as an injury prone guy who might never become a good, healthy player.

So much for that hot take.

Jabari Parker certainly isn’t on the trading block in Milwaukee right now, but talk of him being overrated persists in Milwaukee. Just because Parker is playing again, the assumption is made that he’s back to 100 percent after tearing his ACL last season.

Parker himself seems to disagree with that notion, though.

"“It feels pretty good, but there is a long way to go,” Parker said. “It is about maintaining, but I’m blessed.”"

The thing that makes Parker’s injury especially unfortunate is that he was just learning the ins and outs of being an NBA player. That process was essentially put on hold as soon as his ACL was torn, and then finally resumed again earlier this season.

Now Parker has to learn how to be a pro, and eventually a franchise cornerstone, while just having relearned how to walk, run, and jump. That process is far from easy. So despite Jabari being back as a starter on the Bucks, it’s still fair to say he’s dealing with an injury.

So here we have the comparison between Curry and Parker. Two young players, dealing with injuries. Both were seen as having lots of potential, but thanks to unfortunate circumstances both may never reach their advertised peaks.

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Four years later, Curry is the best player on one of the best teams to ever grace the NBA. He’s essentially guaranteed to win a second consecutive MVP award this season, and his Warriors are obvious favorites to repeat as NBA champions.

His injuries were still obviously unfortunate, but at least Curry was able to learn the NBA ropes and establish himself as a pro before missing most of the year in 2012. Curry played some 180 games before missing the rest of that season. Parker played 25 before his ACL tear.

Jabari Parker may never end up as league MVP–very few players do–but conversations about his ceiling can wait until he has an actual NBA season under his belt.

Back at the start of this season on our Win in 6 podcast we discussed expectations for Jabari this season. Mine has not changed since then, and I’ve been thrilled with what I’ve seen all season. All I wanted from Jabari Parker was to have him stay healthy.

With all the difficulties and challenges awaiting him this season, Jabari just needs to get out there and grow as a player. All of the talk about how guys like Andrew Wiggins are going to have better careers because they’re better than Parker is now is wasted breath.

Despite the armchair experts chiming in on Twitter, there is no one way to identify who will and won’t become a star. Every player has a different, complex path to follow.

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Jimmy Butler barely got to play in his first season and looked underwhelming when he did get on the court. Paul George did get minutes his rookie season, but failed to hit 30 percent of his three-point shots and scored just under eight points per game.

That pair happens to be two of the best dozen or so players in the entire NBA right now. Writing off Jabari Parker for not tearing up the Association in what’s essentially his rookie season while returning from an ACL is as short-sighted as writing off Butler or George after their rookie seasons, or giving up on Curry over some ankle concerns.

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Parker went second overall for a reason. Let him have a real opportunity to prove it, instead of deciding his career arc before he even turns 21 or gets 100 games under his belt.