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NBA Rookie Report: Jabari Parker

Chicago native, Jabari Parker is entering his rookie season with a lot of hype to live up to. While the Cleveland Cavaliers opted to take Andrew Wiggins with the first overall pick, the Milwaukee Bucks were more than happy to have Duke forward, Jabari Parker fall to them. Not only do many people regard Parker as one of the top talents in a loaded 2014 draft, he is entering his rookie campaign as the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award.

Parker is now the franchise player of the Milwaukee Bucks and the face of a new culture. He will be asked to do a lot in his first season, but the focus will be on his offensive contributions. Milwaukee will give Parker free-rein to max out his offensive potential, as the ball will most certainly be in his hands a lot. The key for Parker will be playing to his strengths. His offensive skillset can often be a gift and a curse. Parker can score from virtually anywhere on the court, and because of this he sometimes settles for jump shots. His jump shot is good, but not great. Where he really causes havoc is attacking the basket. Naturally set to be a small forward, his 6’8 235 lb frame gives him the ability to also play power forward as well. In fact, he may end up being most effective playing power forward at the pro level because of his quickness and ability to space the floor. He has the potential to be a matchup nightmare against opposing forwards because of his versatility. In this respect, he reminds a lot of people of a young Carmelo Anthony. At Duke, Parker played both forward positions and even center. His 19 points and 8 rebounds per game were a testament to his scoring ability and versatility.

The Milwaukee Bucks have a young core in search of a team identity but in all likelihood, the team will go as far as Jabari Parker takes them. It will be important that he establishes himself as the alpha dog early. Playing alongside Brandon Knight, OJ Mayo, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Larry Sanders, Parker isn’t exactly surrounded by players that are fit to make him a better player. In fact, he is surrounded by several guys that will be looking to get their own numbers, rather than making the plays that will help the team win. It will be important that Parker not only establish himself as “the man” on the team but also find ways to not get too frustrated with his teammates. The last thing he needs is to establish a reputation as a bad teammate. This wasn’t an issue in high school or at Duke but the pros can change players, especially when they are put in losing situations.

There is a good chance this will be a long and challenging season for the Bucks but Jabari needs to lay the ground-work for the future. Through hard times, he needs to prove he can be the leader the Bucks are hoping for. Scoring will come easy for him. The challenge will be putting a team on his back and carrying a franchise to wins. This is something he wasn’t able to do at Duke when it really counted. It will be interesting to see over time if Parker is known for just being an elite scorer, similar to his pro comparison Carmelo Anthony, or if he is a player that will do whatever it takes to win games. It is hard not to look too far ahead, but in the short term, Jabari Parker is hands down the favorite to win Rookie of the Year.

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Ralph Garcia


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