Mar 15, 2014; Greensboro, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) reacts in the final seconds against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the semifinals of the ACC college basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Duke defeated North Carolina State 75-67. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Roundtable: Would drafting Jabari Parker be any sort of disappointment?

Leading up to the draft lottery, the general consensus around Philadelphia was that if the Sixers landed any of the top three picks in the draft (assuming Joel Embiid can check-out health wise), they were in a good position. The reason for the disappointment of many when the Sixers ended up with the third selection (I was pretty close to having to be institutionalized), was that getting the first pick would have left Sam Hinkie and company some sort of margin for error.

Had they landed the number one pick, they would have over a month to sit through doctors’ analysis of Joel Embiid’s back, scouts’ thoughts on what type of ceiling than Andrew Wiggins has as a basketball player (not just as an athlete), and whether or not Jabari Parker will be able to keep up with the developmental pace of the other two.

For the sake of today’s debate, let’s say a combination of the two Kansas stars (Wiggins and Embiid) go one and two, leaving the Sixers to take Jabari Parker at the third spot. (There is no question that Parker would be the third selection.)

Parker, who averaged 19 points-per-game and just under nine rebounds in one season at Duke, might have seen the most high-school attention of any varsity player since LeBron James. Playing at Chicago basketball powerhouse Simeon, Parker won a state title all four seasons that he spent in high school, and was dubbed ‘the best high school player since LeBron James by Sports Illustrated, while being the magazines’ cover athlete for the the May 21st, 2012 edition. But when time came for teams to begin to lay plans to tank for this year’s stacked draft class, they were doing so with the idea of Parker as the consolation prize for Canadian teenager Andrew Wiggins, who had off the charts athleticism.

Fast forward a year, and former Cameroon volleyball star Joel Embiid-less than five years into his basketball career-looks like he too may have a higher ceiling than Parker. Wiggins certainly didn’t outperform Parker in college (averaged 17.4 points-per-game and six rebounds, but not doing so nearly as efficiently as Parker), but that actually seems to be working in his favor in the minds of many, as we close in on the draft. Scouts consider Parker the most “NBA ready” out of the three, because they believe he can step in immediately average 18-20 points-per-game, and begin to turn your franchise around sooner rather than later. On the surface, you would think that Parker should be the number one pick.

The problem for a majority of the teams picking early on (especially the Sixers and Bucks) is that they are in no rush to turn their franchise around. They would be more than willing to sit back and suck for another year or two as Embiid or Wiggins (especially Wiggins) developed, and add a few more complimentary lottery pieces. Wiggins projects to be a much better defender at the next level than Parker and in time, put together his insane athleticism and a chance to improve his jumper, and he may turn into a better scorer. There is a sense of risk in getting someone like Wiggins, but then again, this entire process has been one big risk in an effort to get out of mediocrity.

What scares me about Parker is that you will get someone who is a pretty solid scorer, but never becomes an elite scorer. Beyond that, Parker can rebound, but with his deficiencies on the other side of the ball mixed with the fact that he is very raw as a passer, I’m afraid of just getting someone who makes an All-Star game or two, but doesn’t help to win this team a title. I’m afraid of getting a slightly better version of Danny Granger in his prime, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he wouldn’t be the number one option on a title team.

Some would argue that Parker doesn’t necessarily have to be the face of the franchise, but that adding a someone who can score and rebound like him, is just part of the continued process of building a complete team. I can’t necessarily argue with that idea, but then where do the Sixers get their franchise-changing star? Chances are, adding in Parker would keep them from seriously being in the running for the number one pick again anytime soon, so you are left to free-agency. As much as I’d like to dream that the Sixers can turn their cap space into an elite two guard and a superstar like Anthony Davis in a few years, I’m not holding my breath.

So my quesion today to our writers was; Given the fact that Parker might not have as high of a ceiling as the other two prospects, and might be better earlier on, would having him fall to the Sixers at three be somewhat disappointing?

My answer to the question honestly was a bit, because I’m just not sure where you find your superstar from after that. I like Parker and would be more than happy to have him on the team, it just begs the question of how do the Sixers continue to build after his selection?

Two of our writers had differing opinions on the selection.

Somers Price: Co-Editor

Answer: Not at all

Jabari Parker had just as much pressure put on him in his one year at Duke and didn’t have the luxury of having another top-three pick playing alongside him. Especially for the 76ers, his defensive deficiencies do not mask the fact that he is the premier scorer in this draft. Everything from 19-feet to the net is within his realm and he’s only going to keep improving in his areas of need. With Noel and Carter-Williams on board, I think the 76ers can absurdly handle whatever they lose defensively and make Parker their franchise player.

 Akiem Bailum: National Columnist

Answer: Not a disappointment, but less exciting than Wiggins or Embiid

For the Philadelphia 76ers to end up with Jabari Parker as the third pick will not be a disappointment. Even though Anthony Wiggins and Joel Embiid are looked at as overall better players than Parker, the best hope for a team like the Sixers is to build for the future through the draft. Michael Carter-Williams already won a rookie of the year award for this previous year. MCW, Nerlens Noel and Parker (who is less of a health risk than Embiid) can be the beginning of a nucleus for the Sixers to contend several years in the future, particularly in an Atlantic Division that is looking more and more like the weakest in the Eastern Conference.

Aaron Mazer: Staff Writer

Answer: Yes and no

In terms of disappointment, it is hard to say whether or not landing Jabari Parker with the third be would be a disappointment for the Sixers organization. At this point in time, landing someone who could come in an average 20 and eight sounds pretty awesome. Parker could come into the league and compete for a rookie of the year while most likely starting alongside Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams from day one. That sounds like a pretty solid ‘big three’ to me in Philly.

However, when you are thinking of the Sixers front office and the vision they have, they are not looking for who will have the biggest impact right away, they are looking for who will have the biggest impact long-term. Sam Hinkie and the Sixers front-office are looking to build a championship team, not just a very good team, and I think landing Wiggins or Embiid would give them a better chance to be that in the long-run than Parker. 

Parker has tremendous talent and will be a very good player in this league for a long-time. I’m not sure he will be a great player, though, which was kind of what this year’s draft was supposed to be about landing. 

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Tags: Andrew Wiggins Jabari Parker Joel Embiid NBA Draft 2014 Philadelphia 76ers Sixers

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