The Milwaukee Bucks need a star player to resurrect this once proud franchise. They have a potential gem in Jabari Parker and should waste little time in building the team around his polished scoring abilities.
Luckily for this franchise, Parker's summer league performances and overall maturity have shown he could easily be the team's top scorer as a rookie. Let the resurrection begin.
Parker has averaged 15.6 and 8.2 rebounds per game in Las Vegas, although he shot just 41.9 percent from the floor. He wasted no time dazzling fans, scoring 17 points in his summer league debut. Parker has a full range of NBA-ready moves, with pull-up jumpers, hook shots and strong finishes off the dribble drives.
His consistency should improve with time, and those low-scoring numbers should come back up for a player with an excellent ability to score points in the post. Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune noted that Parker's handled his relentless initiation to the NBA well:
He’s initiated offense. He’s posted up deep in the paint, and he’s faced up and gotten to the basket off the dribble. It’s part of the versatile player that Milwaukee wants him to become. So this week, he’s often played at three positions. What he and fellow forward Giannis Antetokounmpo have shown this week should scare the rest of the league.
Parker may be the team's top scorer more out of necessity than talent, although he undoubtedly has a wealth of the latter quality.
Here are the Bucks top per-game scorers from last season.
|Milwaukee Bucks 2013-14 Top Scorers|
Khris Middleton might actually be the biggest roadblock to Parker's team-leading performances, as he is durable, can take up some big minutes as a forward and is just 22 years old.
Brandon Knight was forced to play as a shoot-first point guard last season, and he wasn't terribly efficient. He shot 32.5 percent from beyond the arc and averaged 1.182 points per shot, per game, last season, eighth on the team, according to ESPN.com.
Ramon Sessions is currently a free agent and unlikely to return to the team, while O.J. Mayo is best as a team's second or third option in any case.
However, these are the players Parker was brought in to make better. His ability to facilitate play from the high post is a big plus for slower forwards such as Middleton or Ersan Ilyasova. He can also stretch the floor, as he shot 35.8 percent from beyond the arc in his lone season at Duke.
Another great way for a rookie to get cheap points in case he hits road bumps is on the offensive glass. Parker was third in the ACC with 105 offensive rebounds last season, per Sports-Reference.com.
It also helps that Milwaukee is the place Parker has wanted to be from the start and is looking forward to being a leader. The rookie has shown plenty of poise and potential while talking to the media this summer.
"That's a good aspect I want to have, especially coming with the Bucks. I just want to be a leader, use my wisdom as much as possible," he said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Charles F. Gardner.
Motivation can go a long way, and Parker won't want to waste any time being the man in Wisconsin.
Parker could very well lead the team in scoring, but he will still have to take care of the other parts of his game in order to fulfill his potential as a perennial All-Star. He struggled on team defense while in college, but he already feels that he has improved this aspect of his game. Via ESPN Insider Bradford Doolittle (subscription required):
I think I've been doing a really good job on defense lately. Especially defending the post, and defending the ball screens. I even did that at Duke. It's one of the underrated aspects that I have that people overlook. Because if I play really good defense, I'll also have the ability to score.
If Parker can improve on the defensive end and help out the likes of Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo, it could lead to more fast break opportunities for him to finish off.
Whether it is in isolation or playing in a team offense, Parker has the offensive repertoire to succeed at the next level. For the Bucks to escape from the quagmire of a middling NBA franchise that rarely booms and too often busts, Parker will need to lead the way.