Jabari Parker Feels 'Great' in Knee Injury Recovery; No Definitive Return Date

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2017

Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Aaron Gash/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is fighting back from a torn ACL for the second time since debuting in 2014, but he hasn't let the setback sour his attitude. 

"I feel great," Parker told ESPN.com's Nick Friedell on Thursday. "I tell myself every day I couldn't be in a better situation because it's going to make me a great man at the end of the day. It's going to make me mentally tough and it's going to help me for the future."

Parker suffered the season-ending knee injury in February, and the Bucks said at the time it would likely be 12 months before the 2014 No. 2 overall pick would return to full strength. 

On Thursday, Parker told Friedell he doesn't have a target return date in mind. 

"As of right now, the way I treat my body, it doesn't have a date," he said. "I can give you a little piece of information: I'm not the average person with this injury. Obviously I had it once, but I've done stuff so far that's exciting. But most importantly, I want to be able to jump as high, jump higher than I was, be faster than I was. That's the only way I'll play again."

Once Parker is cleared to suit up, he should slide right back into the Bucks' starting lineup and aim to build on what was a breakout 2016-17 season before it was derailed by the ACL tear. 

In 51 games last year, Parker averaged a career-high 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 49.0 percent shooting from the field and 36.5 percent shooting from three. 

To put those numbers in perspective, Parker joined Jimmy Butler, LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George and Joel Embiid as the only qualified players to average at least 20 points and six rebounds while converting 36 percent of their three-point attempts. 

Assuming he can pick up where he left off, Parker should make the Bucks a formidable Eastern Conference foe for established powers like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. 

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