One of the most coveted players in a supremely talented draft class, Jabari Parker is on his way to Milwaukee, the Bucks announced:
The Bucks were lucky enough to be in a position to land Parker, selecting the Duke superstar with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday's 2014 NBA draft, after Andrew Wiggins was selected by the Cavaliers 1st overall.
Kansas talents Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid possess higher ceilings than Parker—and no one is likely to argue that fact. However, there isn't a single player in this class who will make a bigger impact on Day 1 than the 19-year-old forward from Chicago.
The 2013-14 college basketball season was supposed to be the Year of the Freshmen. While many diaper dandies fell short of those impossibly high expectations, though, Parker thrived from the start in Durham, eventually joining four seniors on the AP All-America team.
Although he experienced some bumps in the road, Parker was transcendent for large stretches of the season. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, serving as the clear go-to offensive option for the ultraefficient Blue Devils.
But it was the way he tallied most of his production that suggests a transition to the Association will be so seamless.
Parker, who stands at 6'8" and 241 pounds with a near 7'0" wingspan, per DraftExpress.com, scored off the block. He scored off offensive rebounds, outworking and out-battling defenders in areas of congestion. He hit jump shots from mid-range and beyond the arc. He got to the free-throw line, and he rarely turned the ball over despite one of the highest usage rates in America, per kenpom.com (subscription needed).
Offensively, he would run the break, going around his back on his way to the hoop like a point guard on one play, and then do this on the next:
In an April ESPN poll (subscription required) that determined 17 of 30 random NBA executives would have taken Parker with the No. 1 overall pick, one exec put it simply: "He is the most NBA ready and will be a solid pro for many years, an All-Star, Olympian, etc. He can play any style."
An Eastern Conference scout, via The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes, added to that praise:
In terms of a basketball player and a human being, I think it’s all first class. I think he gets on the court next year and averages between 14-17 points per game, 2-4 assists, 6-8 rebounds. I see this Carmelo Anthony/Grant Hill hybrid.
Like all prospects, there are still concerns, though. Parker is still very much a negative defensively, and there are question marks about what position he'll guard at the next level.
But on the other side of the ball, this kid is something special. Teens aren't supposed to be as refined or as versatile as he is, and his amalgam of size, skill, athleticism, basketball IQ and killer instinct is once-in-a-generation kind of stuff.
Or maybe once-in-11-years kind of stuff: As noted above, Parker has consistently garnered comparisons to seven-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony, who was drafted third overall in 2003.
While Melo has turned into one of the most polarizing players on the planet, that's still undoubtedly high praise for a 19-year-old. Parker, though, has proven at every level an ability to live up to great expectations.
Coach Larry Drew, in desperate need of some offensive firepower right away, will hope that once again rings true in the NBA. After winning just 15 games last season, the Bucks are in dire need of someone who can spark an immediate turnaround.