Before I start, I need to admit my bias in this case. I am a current Duke student and die hard Duke sports fan. With that being said, I watched most if not all of the Duke basketball games this season and wanted to use this post to express my thoughts on Jabari both positive and negative.
The debate about Parker as a NBA prospect is a tough and very complicated one. To truly examine Jabari as a potential draft pick at #3, I think their are 5 key areas to examine: Physical Attributes, Offensive skill, Defensive Skill, Intangibles and Fit as a Sixer.
According to Chad Ford of ESPN, Jabari Parker measured in at 6'9" in shoes, 6'11.75" wingspan with a 8'11.5 Standing reach and weighing about 240-245 lbs. To put this in perspective, examine the chart below:
|Name||Height w/ Shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach|
|Jabari Parker||6'9"||241||6' 11.75"||8'11.5"|
|Andrew Wiggins||6' 8.75"||197||7' 0"||8'11"|
|Jullius Randle||6' 9"||250||7' 0"||8' 9.5"|
|Aaron Gordon||6' 8.75"||220||6' 11.75"||8' 9"|
|Noah Vonleh||6' 9.5"||247||7' 4.25"||9' 0"|
Jabari's had very similar measurements as the top PF prospects in the Draft and, in my personal opinion, helped his draft stock with these numbers. Jabari has the size to play a "stretch 4" in the NBA and, as I will discuss in the next section, be a offensive nightmare for PFs to cover.
Before I even begin to discuss Jabari's offensive skill I want to correct a common misconception about last year's Duke team. People like to say that Duke had a lot of talent around Parker this year, but in reality this one of the worst supporting casts in recent Duke history- excluding the Josh McRobert years (I shudder even discussing them). Rasheed Suliamon regressed and, while he bounced back in some big games as the year concluded, went from a preseason projected top 20 prospect to second round at best. Rodney Hood showed up in certain games and was invisible in others. Andre Dawkins was an excellent shooter but thats about all he could do. Quinn Cook had a few moments but ultimately wasn't a good enough PG. Lastly, Duke lacked a solid big man all year with Marshall Plumlee never turning into what his brothers were and Amile Jefferson not being quite good enough to compete with the best teams.
What all this meant was that Jabari become the offensive option 1, 2 and 3 for Duke. He became the primary ball handler for the team and a lot of his "bad shots" came because no one else on the team could create offensive on their own. The Duke offense became Parker drives and either scores or kicks for a 3. A clear example of this was the Mercer game. Now Jabari struggled on his own in his game and took himself out of the game due to foul trouble but the Duke offense attempted 37 3s. That is a ridiculous number against anyone, but especially against a team such as Mercer that should be overmatched by a supposedly extremely talented Duke team. What happened as the Duke season came to an end is that teams figured out that Jabari was our only offensive and would double and triple team him. Additionally, Jabari would be playing 32-38 minutes every single game and may have hit a wall by the end of the year.
As far as how his offensive game will translate to the NBA, I suggest watching the Duke vs UNC game at Cameron.
Jabari Parker Full Highlights 2014 03 08 vs North Carolina 30 Pts, 11 Rebs (via Pasie15 Goals and Points)
Jabari showed every move you would want in an absolutely demolishing performance against UNC. He showed his range, his ability to beat his defender on the dribble, his shot making skills and his often doubted athletic ability. After watching him closely for a full season and seeing performances such as the one above multiple times, I am confident that Jabari will be a very effective offensive player in the NBA and create mismatches when covered by either 3s or 4s. My concern is much more on the defensive end.
Im not going to sugarcoat this Jabari Parker's defense needs a lot of work. He has below average foot speed and was beaten by quicker slashers consistently. He also lacked defense awareness at times and would give up a few backdoor cuts for easy layups a game. As for his post defense, it seemed to me that he actually as the ability to play solid post defense but he never truly learned how and would often by out of position as a result. His Pick and Roll defense also needs a lot of work as good NBA would expose his weakness there easily.
However, all of this can be taught and while his athleticism won't improve much, with his already high basketball IQ and work ethic I believe he can learn to be a serviceable post defender. Look at this clip of Jabari defending the post against Wake. Now while Wake's 4 is not nearly as good as NBA 4s it does show that Jabari has the defensive potential.
Jabari Parker - Good Post Defense (via Andrew Unterberger)
Where he will continue to struggle is against the better 4s in the league, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Serge Ibaka to name a few, as they will abuse him in the low post despite these improvements. In match ups against these teams, Parker will need to play the 3. Whether or not, teams feel he can adequately do this is a major question that workouts will hopefully answer
This is an area in which I don't think anywhere will argue that Jabari excels. As both a well-mannered and raised man, he possess the exact package most executives and GMs want in a top pick and hopefully a franchise player. I spoke many times to one of my friends who is a manager for the team and he would always rave about how hard Jabari went in practice and described him as one of those "first one in, last one out" type of player. Jabari makes the people around him better and despite Duke's early tournament exit, Jabari carried this Duke team to a overachieving year.
Fit as a Sixer
I actually think the Sixers are one of the better landing spots for Jabari Parker for a few reasons. The biggest might be Nerlens Noel. Having such a defensive playmaker as Noel on the backend erases a lot of the flaws in Jabari's defense. Think about the Thunder Spurs series. The Thunder are very aggressive on the perimeter, but know that if they get beat they have a great shot blocker in Serge Ibaka to protect them. The Parker-Noel Frontline could work the same way- Noel would save Parker when he had one of those defensive lapses during a game. Additionally, the alpha dog type scorer that Jabari Parker is would immediately help the Sixers offensive woes. Lastly, if we drafted Jabari at 3 and then got a strong shooter such as my personal favorite Nik Stauskas at 10 and I think you really improve the team. A starting lineup of MCW- Stauskas-Thad/Different Player-Parker-Noel is a great core for the future.
I hope that whether you were pro-Jabari or anti-Jabari this post at least made you think. I am still torn about what I want the sixers to do at 3. Before the lottery I was very much pro-Wiggins and still have him at the top of my board but I do think Jabari's fit on the sixes is intriguing and something that will be heavily debated up to and after the June 26th Draft. Thanks for your time reading this piece and I look forward to answering any questions, suggestions or opinions in the comment section.