Jabari Parker’s Lost Career

A few years ago when Chicago was granted the 2020 All-Star game, Chicago native Jabari Parker was expected to be one of the young players showcased. Instead, Parker was traded a couple of weeks ago, from Atlanta to Sacramento, which will be his fifth team in six seasons. Parker has missed 60% of his NBA career because of injury. He was the 2nd pick in the 2014 NBA draft and has played the third fewest games out of all the 2014 lottery picks. But only four 2014 lottery picks have a higher ppg than Jabari Parker (Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Julius Randle and Zach LaVine). The potential is there for Parker to be an impact player in the league, but long gone is the idea that Parker can carry a franchise. At best, he’s a 28 min player.

This season, he’s shooting 50.4%. He’s not much of a three point threat which makes his arrival in Sacramento curious since they like to spread the floor with shooters. In the 4th quarter of games, Parker has taken 22 threes and made only one for a 0.45% horror. His rebounding is average for his 6-8 size, just 6.0 per game. Or put it another way, one rebound every 4 minutes. Parker isn’t explosive. He doesn’t block shots or contest at the rim, and he’s a pathetic jump shooter, only making 31%.

The question has to be asked: what does Jabari do well?

He fits a role on a very specific team, one in which he is not asked to be a distance shot maker. His defense is so-so as he struggles with athleticism. Outside of 10 feet, he cannot be trusted. He’s the 29th ranked power forward (Real Plus-Minus). Players ranked ahead of him are Mason Plumlee and someone on the Mavs named Maxi Kleber. Defensively, he is ranked 85th (Defensive Real Plus-Minus), 56 slots lower than an old Carmelo Anthony.

But it’s not all bad news for Parker. Sure, he’s not who we thought he was going to be. Injuries will turn a promising career into an afterthought. He’s best served as a small piece on a contending team, someone who can come off the bench. He reminds me of Rudy Gay. He has something to offer but it is disappointing to see how his body has failed him.

The position of power forward isn’t what it used to be. Either you are a stretch four or you are in the lane with footwork and a sweet j or hook. You have to rebound 9 or 10 a game. You have to explode to protect the rim. Parker is forced to use tricks and his smarts to create space and force opponents to respect his game. Bur first, he has to stay healthy.

I’m not sure what Sacramento wants to do with Parker. He is a slower version of Harrison Barnes if Harrison Barnes lost his athleticism. Parker is coachable and he can be relevant in short stretches. The Kings play slow which fits Parker’s style. But they also have a glut of power forwards. But unlike Barnes, Jabari Parker isn’t versatile. He is too slow to play the 3 and isn’t strong enough to play the 5.

Sacramento attempts 35 threes per game, 10th most in the league. Parker can’t makes threes. So how is this a fit? I get that they wanted to get rid of Dwyane Dedmon’s $40 million contract the Kings signed him to- oops their bad- but Parker isn’t just saving them money. He has to find a way into the rotation and thrive. For a few months, at least. He’s motivated to showcase himself because he has a player option. $6.5 million is cheap for a #2 lottery pick.

Parker may be on the move come July, finding a home and team #6.