On four occasions throughout franchise history, the Milwaukee Bucks have been faced with the difficult decision of whom to take with the first overall pick.
Come summer, that number may reach five.
With names like Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle likely in the mix, the 2014 draft class is expected to be one of the most talented and deepest in recent memory.
If the Bucks land the top pick, though, only one name should matter: Jabari Parker.
But what sets the Chicago native apart?
Parker and Wiggins were the two most sought-after freshman coming into college for 2013-14, but Parker has separated himself from the pack early on.
One reason for that is his ability to score from anywhere on the floor.
Through 12 games, Parker is averaging 22.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting an excellent 53.9 percent from the floor and 46.5 percent from three-point territory.
He's shown that he can score from deep, mid-range and in the post and has been a nightmare for most defenses he has faced.
After his team's loss to Duke, UCLA head coach Steve Alford touched on Parker's well-roundedness (per Zagsblog.com):
I know we’re in New York City, but there’s a lot of Melo in him as far as a guy that can stretch you to the 3-point line,” 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 he’s a very, very talented, gifted player. And you don’t see a lot who are this polished 10, 11 games into their freshman year.
That's high praise for the youngster to be getting this early in his college career.
|Comparisons to Similar Freshman Phenoms|
|Jabari Parker (Through 12 Games)||22.2||7.8||1.8||53.9||46.5|
|Basketball-Reference.com & ESPN.com|
Parker will face his biggest test when ACC play rolls around but, to this point, he has been fantastic from an offensive standpoint.
The Bucks are currently one of the NBA's worst offensive teams—from both a scoring and efficiency perspective—and lack anything that resembles a go-to scorer.
Drafting Parker would immediately give them someone who could provide them with consistent, efficient scoring on a nightly basis.
Of course, college numbers don't always translate to the next level.
Parker, however, shouldn't have much trouble continuing to score whenever he does turn pro. His good size (6'8", 235 pounds), excellent rise on his jump shot and solid first step will allow him to excel moving forward.
While many were drooling—and rightfully so—over Wiggins' elite athleticism, they seemingly ignored the fact that Parker is a pretty gifted player as well.
Don't believe me? Here's one of the best plays you'll see all season in college hoops:
He's not the type of player you'll see competing in the dunk contest down the road, but the notion that a player needs to possess elite athleticism in order to make an impact is a tired one.
Unlike Wiggins, who is still rather raw and inconsistent from an offensive standpoint, Parker won't need to rely on his athleticism in order to succeed while his other skills come around.
His first step is enough to get by most small forwards and he elevates quite well on his jumper, meaning length shouldn't bother him all that much.
Given how gifted he is on offense, he should be able to make a smoother transition, and whatever lack of athleticism some think he has will not be a factor.
One thing the Bucks continue to lack is a playmaker.
Adding Parker to the equation would certainly help solve that dilemma.
It's easy for highly touted prospects to get caught up in all of the hype surrounding them throughout the recruiting process and into their collegiate career.
For Parker, it doesn't seem to have had much of an impact.
The 18-year-old appears to always be listening in the huddle and on the floor and carries himself with class and poise off of it.
In fact, Parker is so devoted to his Mormon faith that he once considered putting college on the back-burner in order to go on his mission (per Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com).
Ultimately he chose to attend Duke, but the fact that he even gave it thought says a lot about his character. Many players probably wouldn't even think twice about it, but it seems as though it was a choice Parker weighed heavily.
His faith—and character—was further explored by Jeff Benedict of Sports Illustrated in the magazine's May 21, 2012 issue:
Humble isn't usually the first word that comes to mind when describing a star athlete, but it's the one most often used by people who have been around Jabari: the high school janitor, the hall monitors, the cheerleaders, even hard-bitten sports reporters and Chicago's famously combative mayor. What makes this all the more surprising is that Jabari, 17, is not just the best high school player in the state. He's the best high school player since LeBron James.
On a team without a bona fide leader, Parker could immediately step in and take over that role for the Bucks.
Good character guys seem to be the exception more than the rule in today's NBA. With questionable personalities like Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis having recently spent time in Milwaukee, the team could certainly use a high-character star on its roster.
And if Parker has kept his head on straight through everything to this point, there's no reason to think that'll suddenly change with a big payday.
The Right Combination of Skills and Traits
Assuming players like Wiggins and Randle—along with guys like Marcus Smart, Dante Exum and Joel Embiid—all declare for the 2014 draft, there will be no shortage of talent available for whoever picks first.
And truthfully, the Bucks could probably move forward with any one of those names.
However, Parker seems to be a rare breed.
He possesses the offensive talent, the basketball I.Q., the athleticism and the leadership qualities any team would love to have on its roster.
So far, he has set himself apart from his peers by making it look easy at the collegiate level.
Carmelo Anthony is a great player and Parker should feel flattered being compared to one of the NBA's elites and perhaps its best pure scorer.
There's no denying that he has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level.
What separates Parker from others though—even Anthony—is his maturity and willingness to give his all on both ends of the floor.
If the Bucks receive the honor of picking first this summer and Parker is there for the taking, they would be making a huge mistake not to welcome him to their franchise.