Jabari Parker, 6-foot-8 small forward, Duke
2013-14 stats: 19.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.1 SPG, .473 FG%, .358 3P%
Parker had one of the greatest freshman seasons in recent memory, emerging as a dominant player from the beginning of his lone campaign at Duke. The Chicago native is a versatile scorer with excellent size for his position and a polished, highly-skilled offensive repertoire. For Parker to reach his potential, however, he must improve the two most oft-cited criticisms of his game, defense and conditioning.
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Career highlights: Playing out of position on the interior, Parker managed to post per-game averages of 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocked shots and 1.1 steals per game, while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from three-point range. The Simeon product scored over 20 points in his first seven college affairs, only scored single digits in two contests and some of his better outings included a 27-point, nine-rebound effort against Kansas, a 29-point, 16-rebound performance against Boston College and a 30-point, 11-rebound game against Duke rival North Carolina. Among Parker’s honors were ACC rookie of the year, first team all-conference, national freshman of the year and first team All-American.
Strengths: Capable of scoring from all three levels, Parker’s post-up game when guarded by smaller players and ability to drive by bigger defenders, his long-range shooting and refined mid-range jumper make ready to step in as a featured option. While his athleticism is regarded as not quite at an elite level, the South Sider is a powerful finisher above the rim with finesse, both in transition and in the half-court. A highly intelligent player, Parker is also rugged enough to be a major presence on the boards and with his size and perimeter skills, can play either forward position, whether his natural wing spot or sliding down to the interior in small-ball lineups.
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Weaknesses: Although he actually is a decent weak-side shot-blocker, Parker’s calling card certainly isn’t defense, as his lateral quickness, effort in help situations and guarding his man one-on-one could use improvement. Always a big-bodied player, since a foot injury following his junior season in high school, conditioning has also been an issue. Becoming more of a playmaker is another aspect that could be better, as Parker has the skill set to be a effective creator for his teammates.
Draft projection: A candidate to be selected first in the draft by Cleveland, Parker is expected to be selected at No. 2 by Milwaukee. Wherever he lands, the son of former NBA player Sonny Parker will be an offensive focal point from the outset of his professional career. As his career progress, Parker should become one of the NBA’s top scorers and players at his position.