Jabari Parker didn’t play in the Bucks’ exhibition game last year against the Timberwolves, but he made up for lost time in this year’s game against Dallas.
Parker impressed the crowd with his athleticism, an underrated phase of his game. He finished in just about every way you can draw it up – in transition, on people, and throwing down alley-oops.
Parker even dunked so hard during the first half that he hit his head on the rim, causing him to spend a few moments rubbing his forehead.
Finishing the game with 21 points on 9-14 shooting, Jabari looked like the 100 million dollar man, not Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak predicted an all-star game berth for Jabari this year, and if he continues his play from Saturday night, that could very well be in store for the young forward.
Parker’s role is inherently more important after Khris Middleton’s hamstring injury. When a team that doesn’t have any shooting loses their best shooter, it’s not necessarily a recipe for success. Middleton was the guy the Bucks would dump it to as the shot clock, or game clock for that matter, was winding down. Someone on the roster is going to have to step up in Middleton’s absence, and Parker is the best option.
Giannis’s jumper still seems broken, particularly after he completely air mailed a wide open three (by a few feet) on Saturday night. Jabari only shot 25% from the three-point line last season, but his mid range jumper is by far the most polished between him and Giannis, and head coach Jason Kidd has mentioned Jabari’s offseason work from the three-point line. Parker didn’t attempt a three during Saturday’s game and his ability from the perimeter is still largely unknown.
Parker could fit a role that the Bucks badly need, which is a flat out scorer. Jabari’s athleticism is unmatched at the rim with his ability to get from the ground to the rim faster than most people can blink, let alone rise up to block a dunk attempt. Parker’s leaping ability helps combat the fact that Jabari is an undersized four.
After the all-star game last year, Jabari averaged 18.9 PPG, including a career-high 36 point performance against the Magic. Before the All-Star break Parker averaged 11.3 PPG. That increase in points and the development he showed in just one season has many wondering what he could develop into.
Jabari is much better around the rim at this point than he is at shooting from the perimeter. Just looking at his shot chart below, you can see the scarcity in his perimeter shot attempts. His three-point attempts were few and far in between, and there are a lot of blue marks (misses) in the midrange area.
Hopefully after the steady improvement of his midrange game by the end of last season and the offseason work, we see the best version of Jabari’s jumper going forward. Jabari’s athleticism coupled with a consistent jump shot is exactly what he needs to make the jump to All-Star level, and make Giannis’s prediction come true.
image courtesy of cbssports.com, graph courtesy of austinclemens.com