Prospect Examination: Jabari Parker

Posted by Clevis Murray on Thursday, June 26, 2014 with No comments

"Jabari could not have been better," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He is the epitome of what you would want a basketball player to be -- outstanding every day on the practice court and in the classroom and a very humble young man. He had a fantastic freshman year and is so deserving of the opportunity to play in the NBA and follow his dream."

He was so good that his High School (Simeon) uplifted their "No freshmen on varsity" rule just for him, not even Derrick Rose had that uplifted but Jabari Parker did and having a rule like that uplifted for a freshmen means he's a very good basketball player. Parker has been talked about since his high school senior year and was thought of to be the leader of the "Year of the Freshmen" in college basketball and for the most part he certainly was having one of the best freshmen seasons in recent memory. Despite his surprising early exit in the NCAA Tournament by Mercer he is a virtual lock in the Top-3 of this years draft.

Unlike other college athletes, Parker actually took his time to think about declaring for the NBA Draft. After Duke was upset by Mercer in the round of 32, Parker would go on to call his college career "incomplete" which appeared to indicate that he was leaning towards returning for his sophomore year and team up with another Chicago product, childhood friend, former AAU teammate and 2015 NBA Draft prospect Jahlil Okafor ( cousin of Emeka Okafor ). Parker is the 5th Blue Devil to be one-and-done joining Corey Maggette, Luol Deng, Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers.

"If I feel like there are things I could improve on or things I left, like during the season, then I will probably come back," Parker said. "A deciding factor is where I'm going to grow the most, whether it's in the NBA or even in college, the learning experiences that I need as far as [growing as] a basketball player."

"I love the whole attitude of staying in college,’ because I want to take advantage of it. Getting a free education is big time in my family." Parker said. "Everything in my city is negative, [The media] try to bring it down so much with the violence and Im an African-American male in my communitygoing to college and thats big time. I want to represent them in the best form, the best manner just to keep them close to my heart so they can see that theres a young [guy] out on the South Side doing big things."

Despite being the afterthought to Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins, many thought Wiggins had more potential than Parker mainly because of his athletic ability.  The athletic ability of a player should never be the judging point as to how good a player could be because if that was the case then Kevin Love would've never gotten drafted back in '08. Parker may not have dunk contest athletic ability but he is athletic — more like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony athletic.

Regardless of how you look at it, Parker is to Durant as Wiggins is to LeBron. What I mean when I say that is in all rankings and mock drafts, Parker was ranked No. 2 to Wiggins and in the NBA Durant usually finishes second behind LeBron and it even got to a point where Durant publicly said he hated being known as No. 2 because it's been like that his whole entire life.

Parker excelled tremendously this season at Duke and was very impressive with his high IQ and desire to score along with rebounding at a high rate and despite his low assists totals, he isn't a selfish player as his seasonal stats may fool the naked eye. Parker is a very burly young man with great speed and can get to the rim at will and could finish with a emphatic dunk or a contact layup along with averaging about six free-throws per night .  

Year
PPG
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
13-14
19.1
8.7
1.2
1.1
1.2
0.473
0.358
0.748


Year
PER
USG
TS%
ORtg
DRtg
WS
TRB
13-14
28.1
32.7
0.558
115.0
99.3
5.5
17.1

Just looking at Parker's advanced stats you could tell that he was just dominant this season without a unprecedented 28.1 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and a ridiculously high 32.7 Usage Rate (USG)  which shows that he was very active this past season along with sky high  115 Offensive Rating (ORtg) and 99.3 Defensive Rating (DRtg).

Parker has shot better than most forward/guards that have entered the draft in past years. He isn't the best shooter but once he gets hot it's a forgone conclusion and in the NBA his shot will become scary good and evolve just like Anthony's and Durant's. Parker is smart enough to realize that if his shot is having a night off then he should just drive to the rim consistently and being the threat he is, he is likely to be fouled. For a guy 6-8 it's very intriguing to see someone of that size with impressive passing skills and ball-handling skills which makes him a bigger threat on offense as a scorer or play maker.  With his 7'0" wingspan Parker can disrupt passing lanes which helps makeup for his lack of defensive skills.

Parker this season struggled against bigger and longer opponents than him and will struggle against a few Small forwards but as his career matures that won't be much of a problem. The 19-year old also doesn't have great lateral quickness on the defensive end which allowed other forwards to go around him to either make a play or score which led Coach K to bench him sometimes in the closing minutes of a game. He also sometimes becomes unaware of what's going on defense and needs to improve his post defense. There are better players in those categories than Parker but none of them have as great as work ethic as him to improve.

There have been players in the past that have been hyped up but couldn't execute on the court, Parker is not one of those players as he has exceeded expectations. Parker is the most NBA-Ready player in this years draft and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Joel Embiid (Kansas), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Julius Randle (Kentucky) and Marcus Smart (Oklahoma St.). Parker is 6'8" 241-pounds which is similar to some current NBA players as in Paul Pierce, Luol Deng and Carmelo Anthony. To me Parker is the best player in this years draft and is a definite future All-Star and is at the top of all his peers in the draft.

This season Parker has been bombarded with multiple comparisons from Luol Deng to Carmelo Anthony to Kevin Durant to Paul Pierce.

"I think hes having that Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant-type impact on the game," Grant Hill said. "His versatility is through the roof. He can play multiple positions, guard multiple positions, handle the ball, post up, shoot from long range. Then theres the intellect. And the beauty of his game is his personality. Hes 100% bought in, hes emotionally invested and thats the sign of a champion. He has an incredible feel for the game and its something thats hard to quantify."

"Theres a lot of Melo in him as far as guy that can stretch you to the 3-point line," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "He can drive the basketball. He creates space off the dribble to get jump shots. He can take you to the post, so I just think hes a very, very talented, gifted player. And you dont see a lot who are this polished 10, 11 games into their freshman year." But Parker is more satisfied with the comparison to Melo saying Its a good comparison, He mastered the fundamentals. Hes always good at his craft. He works on it and thats a person Ive been looking up to, so yeah, thats good compliment."

With so many NBA comparisons going on with future NBA prospects, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant points to technology as most of the youngsters in today's game having skills before their time.

"You can basically go to [search] your favorite player and watch film," Durant said. "You can go on YouTube and type in 'LeBron James' and watch every move he does, break it down and work on it. It's simple. When I was coming up you had to figure it out. I'm seeing [young] guys shooting fade-away and Euro-step floaters. Where are they getting this stuff? They're just watching these guys thoroughly [on video] and breaking it down. Some of these kids have access to going to my camp, or LeBron's camp or D-Wade's [Dwyane Wade's camp], getting 1-on-1 instruction. It's amazing. The game is growing."

In today's day-and-age we are so used to seeing athletes declare for the draft or college in fancy ways if it's via press conference, national TV or at a location where something special happened; Jabari Parker is different as he declared for the draft in a well written letter to Sports Illustrated — Who else does that?

"Ultimately, I boiled my decision down to two simple questions," Parker wrote. "Which environment -- college or the NBA -- offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player? Which environment -- college or the NBA -- offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court? The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA."

"There is something else. My father, Sonny, played in the NBA," Parker wrote. "I know firsthand that the career span of a pro basketball player is finite. The lucky ones play until their mid-30s. With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college. It's ironic, but true."

Parker is showing great admiration and appreciation for joining the NBA and is already promising to give it his for whichever team drafts him in June.

"I realize how much of a privilege and an honor it is to join the ranks of the NBA,” Parker wrote.I will do everything in my power to help deliver championships to the franchise that drafts me. At the same time, I recognize the obligation to represent the league in an admirable way off the court."

I don't get very fascinated with players on and off the court but I am with Jabari Parker as he is what the NBA needs as Parker is becoming a true man before his years and has gained my support and possibly others more than any other college and possibly pro athlete and with something people admire — respect. Parker plans on returning to school to finish what he just started as he is already thinking of life after basketball and he isn't even 20 yet. He had a 3.7 GPA in high school and is a honor student at Duke; despite not completing his Mormon mission, he remained faithful to his religion as he constantly carries the Book of Mormon and does much charity work in his community.

"My days as a Duke student are not [over]. I intend to graduate from Duke while I'm in the NBA," Parker wrote. "I was an honor student when I arrived at Duke, and I'd like to graduate as one. I know some people will say this is unrealistic. Others will say, why bother? The fact is that I have many interests beyond basketball. I'd like to write a children's book. I am interested in various business aspects of the entertainment industry. And I'd like to work with corporate America in one way or another. A college degree from Duke will help with each of these aspirations."

"I want to follow in my father's footsteps as a role model to youth," Parker wrote. "especially those kids who need the most help. My dad created the Sonny Parker Youth Foundation, which has helped countless boys -- including me -- develop into manhood and stay out of trouble."

Jabari Parker clearly has his head straight and is a great example of what a African-American athlete should aspire to become because most of them just don't cut it as role models. 

Some will put on a smile and say some stuff to the youth for the camera trying to boost their image and the next day end up in jail or have a negative report written up about them. Parker and LeBron James are the two role models in the NBA that personify that term. Once drafted, Parker will bring true maturity to the locker room along with a All-Star caliber skill-set which will make him on the better NBA players from now in 10 years and just like Laker legend guard Kobe Bryant, I see "Great Potential" in him.

Best fits: Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Comparisons: Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce and Kevin Durant