Philadelphia 76ers: With James gone, is Jabari Parker worth the risk?

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /


Now I can already hear the choir of “Well if Jabari Parker is so good, why haven’t the Bucks locked him into a long-term deal yet?”, and I’d be lying if I said he’s a perfect player.

Just like every other player in the NBA, Parker’s game isn’t perfect, but on a good team, even the worst flaws can be minimized by great coaching.

Brett Brown is a great coach.

After starting 150 of a possible 183 games over his four-year tenure in Milwaukee under (mostly) Jason Kidd’s tutelage, Parker was maybe unfairly tasked with being a focal point on the offensive side of the ball, often having to learn on the fly in an ever-changing scheme, and develop in front of thousands of fans a night.

No pressure there.

This, when coupled with having to change his entire way of playing to accommodate the emergence of Giannis as a legitimate Ben Simmons-esque 6-foot-10 positionless ball handler forced Parker to take the ball out of his hands and develop into a spot up shooter on the wings, a pretty sizeable transition from the ISO mid-game bully ball that made him the second overall pick in the draft. While he didn’t play bad per say on the wings, knocking down roughly 37 percent of the roughly 3.2 shots he took from deep each game, but for a player who’s spent his entire career as a low post brawler, it certainly took some getting used to.

With Antetokounmpo switching from shooting guard to point guard to small forward to power forward over the last four years as Kidd desperately searched for a position to play his star, fighting tooth and nail to (unsuccessfully) keep his job, Parker’s role with the team became a virtual choose your own adventure, playing predominantly in the paint one game, and on the wings the next.

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If Parker were to make his way to South Philly, all of this instability would immediately come to an end.

Playing under one of the best player development coaches in the entire NBA, Brown could very well unlock Parker’s game at the professional level and develop the fourth year forward into the kind of five star recruit that Mike Krzyzewski hand-picked to lead his squad coming out of Simeon Career Academy in Chicago.

At only 23, Parker still has plenty of room to grow into his own as a pro.

After being predominantly held out of the Bucks’ playoff series against the Boston Celtics over the series’ first two games, Parker was reinserted into the team’s lineup to add an offensive spark with their playoff hopes on the line, and fans who caught the game caught the glimpse of a player finally putting it all together.

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After averaging a -1.61 defensive Real Plus-Minus over the regular season, one of the worst numbers of any power forward in the league, Parker came alive on the defensive end of the court, hauling in seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals along with 16 points en route to a series tieing 104-102 victory. Though it was ultimately for naught, as the Bucks and their interim head coach Mike Budenholzer ultimately lost the series in seven, leading to a doomed 76ers-Celtics series in the Eastern Conference, it served as a major wakeup call for the fourth year forward who later lamented that he needs to develop into a two-way player to find his way onto the court.

This is the kind of player worth adding to a young, hungry team, a player willing to do whatever it takes to get better.

If given an opportunity to work on his game on the 76ers second unit, especially when paired with a very well respected veteran defensive center like Amir Johnson, Parker could easily continue to develop into a two-way player, one with a clear role on this team for years to come.