There's no reason to get cute here: If Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins are the first two players off of the board on June 26, the Philadelphia 76ers should (and likely will) draft Jabari Parker.
Sometimes, the best draft picks are the ones that make themselves.
But let's keep it 100 for a second: For the better part of his Duke career, Parker sure as hell didn't look the part of a potentially franchise-changing, superstar talent. He appears to have the type of frame that would lend itself to adding plenty of weight quickly. And if his official measurements at Duke are considered gospel, Parker never shed most of the pounds that he gained after breaking his foot back in the summer prior to his senior year.
But appearances can be deceiving, after all: There have been plenty of players over the course of basketball history who looked like an Adonis, but played more like an Adonis Jordan.
2014 LB Mock Draft
2014 LB Mock draft
Parker falls into neither category, and based on the video of a recent workout in California, he moves pretty well for someone who is (or at least, was) reportedly 15-20 pounds overweight earlier this spring.
I think it's safe to assume that his physique will be even more defined after spending a summer surrounded by professional trainers and nutritionists. And it doesn't hurt matters that the Sixers have a head coach who is so focused on fitness, he took meticulous notes of how many pounds each of his players had lost since the start of training camp.
Sure... Sam Hinkie may be intrigued by the potential of Dante Exum, but he and the rest of the 76ers' front office would be foolish to pass on Parker. His per-40 minute numbers during his brief stint in Durham were just silly (25.0 points, 11.4 rebounds), and it's not unreasonable to project that he'll average roughly 14 points and seven rebounds per game as early as next season. Parker has the size and length to play (and defend) both forward spots, and his basketball IQ is impressive for someone who just turned 19 back in March.
For what it's worth (read: not very much for a team that won just 19 games last season), Parker is probably the most NBA-ready prospect in his entire class. At the very least, he's a player who figures to be an above-average to star-level talent for the next 10 to 12 years. In a draft filled with speculation and uncertainty, Parker is as close to a sure thing as there is. He's the basketball version of a U.S. Treasury bill.
The learning curve may very well be steep, but Parker could almost immediately step in as the primary option for an offense that currently lacks a go-to scorer. At 6'8" and somewhere in the neighborhood of 230 pounds (assuming Brett Brown hands him a smoothie or two between now and Opening Night), he'll be a matchup problem for most forwards assigned to check him. Most importantly, Parker's ability to knock down an outside shot (35.8 percent from beyond the arc last season) makes him the perfect compliment to Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt.
Conversely, it will be Noel's job to negate some of Parker's shortcomings on the other end. Parker's main issue is less-than-ideal lateral quickness - a trait that figures to get better over time. The Association is loaded with players who aren't elite athletes but who have managed to become solid defenders given a little effort. An unnamed NBA scout likened Parker to one of those players last week: a pretty decent small forward by the name of Paul Pierce.
Two years ago this month, Sports Illustrated called Jabari Parker "the best high school player since LeBron James." Several, less complimentary phrases will be used to describe the former Duke standout over the next few weeks: a consolation prize, a safety blanket, the bronze medal of the 2014 NBA Draft class. On June 26, I hope we'll all be able to refer to him as "the best Sixers' draft pick since Allen Iverson."
Welcome to Philadelphia, Jabari. Tomorrow, the Orlando Magic are on the clock.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Joel Embiid
2. Milwaukee Bucks - Andrew Wiggins
3. Philadelphia 76ers - Jabari Parker
4. Orlando Magic