Evaluating the Dream Matchup: Jabari Parker vs Andrew Wiggins


Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

It may have been only the second game of the College Basketball season, but the Kansas vs Duke game was perhaps the best game that will be played all season long. The final game of ESPN’s Tip Off Classic featured two of the best teams in the country, yet the focus was not centered on this marquee matchup. All eyes were fixed on the two talented freshman, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins.

Parker and Wiggins are two of the most talented players in all of college basketball and both will surely be top three picks in the upcoming NBA draft. NBA executives and scouts are drooling at the chance to draft one of these superstar freshman. The match up between these two 6’8” forwards had the anticipation of a Lebron James vs Kevin Durant match up. Fans wanted to see how these two players would perform on the big stage against each other and the opposing team. As expected, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker did not disappoint.

The game was a high scoring affair that saw Andrew Wiggins’ take control during the final stretch to give the  Jayhawks a 94-83 victory.

Wiggins finished with 22 points to go along with eight rebounds and one block. Jabari Parker had a spectacular game of his own scoring 27 points and collecting nine rebounds and two steals.

This game gave fans a chance to get a good look at the future of the NBA  and evaluate the game of each player for themselves. Both Wiggins and Parker played exceptionally well and met the high expectations put on their shoulders for this game, but let’s take a closer look at the performance of each of the talented freshman starting with Jabari Parker.

Parker, a 6’8” 235 pound freshman from Chicago, has the word special written all over him. Despite being much more built and muscular than Wiggins, Parker showed his athleticism several times during the game including this monstrous alley oop. Defensively, Parker was able to play guard both the three and four positions throughout night and held his own against the front court of Kansas by collecting 9 rebounds.


What separates Parker from Wiggins is that his offensive game, and overall game, is much more polished and NBA ready than Wiggins’ game. Parker went 9-18 from the field, taking his offensive skill set all over the court. The big man had a nice touch from the outside going 4-7 from deep. When the opportunity presented itself, Parker was able to penetrate the lane like a smaller two guard and finish at the rim. He also utilized his  superior post work, using several different footwork techniques and big man moves to score over the opposing front court of Kansas. The 27 points scored by Parker were impressive due to the variety of ways he was able to get the ball in the basket.

From the opening tip to the final buzzer, Parker had a look in his eyes that sent a message that he was going to compete hard. He had the killer instinct mentality the entire game as he attacked Kansas’ defense head on and put together a huge game on both ends of the court.

Not to be out shined, Andrew Wiggins put on a show of his own. Early foul trouble limited the top recruit to just 25 minutes, but he made every one of those minutes count.

One of the only knocks on Wiggins’ game thus far has been that he becomes hesitant at times and does not attack enough offensively and seems to be one-dimensional offensively. In his debut, majority of Wiggins’ baskets were scored through penetration into the lane and using his athleticism to finish through contact. He had not shown his ability to step out and hit the jump shot, until last night.

Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks over Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Wiggins demonstrated his entire offensive arsenal in the win over Duke. Layups, dunks, jump shots, scoring in transition. Wiggins did it all for the Jayhawks en route to a 22 point performance on 9-15 shooting. This was exactly the offensive display that fans and scouts were waiting to see and he put it together on the biggest stage of his young career.

Defensively, Wiggins is a much better perimeter defender than Parker due to his speed and athleticism. Last night, Wiggins was able to hold Duke’s Rodney Hood, one of Duke’s more talented scorers, to just 11 points on 3-8 shooting. He has the potential to be one of the best perimeter defenders in all of college basketball.

Both Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins played up to their talent and expectation level in last night’s game. It is obvious that each player is one of the premier scorers in the nation and will wreak havoc on opposing defenses all year-long and into the NCAA tournament. But how different are their talent levels at this current point in time?

Of the two, Jabari Parker looks more like a number one pick. His offensive game is far more polished than Wiggins’. He has the ability to be a primary ball handler who can score both inside and out. Parker also has excellent court vision and is a very skilled passer for a player of his size. Every aspect of Parker’s game has been dominant early on. He looks more NBA ready than Wiggins on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

Wiggins, on the other hand, is a raw talent offensively. Despite his hot shooting last night, he has yet to show his outside touch. Most of his scoring has come inside the paint with transition dunks and layups. Once he establishes his outside scoring ability by showing it more on the court, he will be even more dangerous.

Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) shoots over Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) in the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

One thing not lacking from either player is a desire to win. Last night’s back and forth affair was close until the very end and neither player backed down. Parker and Wiggins did everything they could to help their team down the stretch, but it was Wiggins’ killer instinct that reigned supreme in the end.

Wiggins took over for Kansas late in the second half. After scoring just six points in the first half, Wiggins took it upon himself to win the game scoring 16 second half points. In the final four minutes alone he had two transition dunks, and put the game just out of reach with a step back jumper with 1:33 remaining in the game.

Andrew Wiggins outplayed Jabari Parker down the stretch when it mattered most.

While it is true that the college basketball season is only two games in, it is not too early to start evaluating these two players. It is important to note the strengths and flaws in each of their games now at the start of the season. The thing to keep an eye on is how Wiggins and Parker will develop and expand their respective games as the season goes on and the competition gets tougher.

By season’s end, each of these players will have put up dominating numbers and established themselves as NBA ready talent.

As it stands now, there is no clear-cut first overall pick, but the next five months of college basketball will provide plenty of games like last night for NBA scouts and executives to get a better idea of which of these players has the brighter future in the NBA.