Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker’s future remains muddled

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

After a postseason of individual highs and lows, Jabari Parker‘s future remains as muddled as ever as the Milwaukee Bucks forward prepares for free agency.

In all of the time Jabari Parker spent sidelined with knee injuries in recent years, but particularly in the Milwaukee Bucks’ postseason visits in 2015 and 2017, the discussion would often turn to the subject of how the team might look with their once prized second overall pick out on the floor.

As the 2017-18 season wound down and Parker was healthy, the debate and anticipation only intensified. Not only would the Bucks finally get to see how Parker could help a playoff effort, but also how he’d fit alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon in that setting.

Now, Parker’s first taste of playoff action has been and gone, and unfortunately very little has crystallized from a Bucks’ perspective.

More from Bucks News

Parker had moments of brilliance combining everything the basketball world has known he could do since his days at Duke, with everything Milwaukee’s fans had doubted he was capable of after four seasons of watching him play.

On the other hand, Parker also slipped back into bad habits at inopportune times, grumbled over playing time in the media at a time when his team least needed distractions, and ultimately remained as much of an enigma as he’s been ever since misfortune struck with his first injury in his rookie season.

Parker could be the Bucks’ savior, and he could be the secondary star needed to take some of the load off Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s shoulders.

But he may also be the weight that drags them down to the deepest and darkest depths if he’s re-signed at a significant cost and fails to consistently find his best.

That lack of consistency is Parker’s biggest problem as he approaches free agency, and he certainly hasn’t been helped in that regard by his lengthy spells on the sidelines. The result is there’s still a case to be made for Parker both as a game-changing positive and a potential team-sinking negative.

Those cases are made both frequently and loudly among different subsections of the Bucks’ fanbase, and who knows, they may even be debated similarly within the team’s front office.

Believers in Parker can point to recent evidence of his surprisingly complete performance on both ends of the floor in the Game 3 win against the Celtics or the first half of the Game 4 win.

On the other side of the argument, there’s a version of Parker who deservedly saw reduced minutes following lackluster displays in Games 1 and 2 and then brought his grievances into the public forum ahead of the biggest game of the season.

Long-term questions of fit and health remain, and with them, how Parker finished the regular season and performed in the postseason only complicate the issue further.

The hope had long been that when the time for decisions arrived with Parker, the Bucks would have a clear sense of who he was or what he could be. As he prepares to field offer sheets this summer, that simply isn’t the case.

With the other questions surrounding his health and his fit, Parker couldn’t afford to leave much doubt. Perhaps he still gets the kind of offer he desires, and maybe it even comes from the Bucks, but the possibility of a relatively quiet market for the 23-year-old now seems greater than ever.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks: What’s excitement got to do with coaching candidates?

If that proves to be the case, an inconsistent playoffs to follow up an inconsistent career to date may well be to blame. Parker has had more than his share of misfortune and isn’t entirely to blame, but it doesn’t feel like we’re any closer to knowing what kind of player he really is.