It’s been a long and winding road for Jabari Parker. The former No. 2 overall pick appeared in 64 games for two different teams (the Bulls and Wizards) during the 2018-19 season and, while his stint in Chicago was not necessarily fruitful, Parker enjoyed a mini-renaissance in the nation’s capital. The 24-year-old forward produced strong per-36 minute averages (19.7 points, 9.5 rebounds) to go along with 58.7 percent true shooting in Washington and, with that as the backdrop, the Hawks came calling with a two-year contract that includes a (controversial) 2020-21 player option.
Parker recently caught up with KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune to reflect on his arrival in Atlanta and he was candid in declaring it a “good situation.”
“It’s never promised that things are going to go well, but just from the energy that I’m feeling, it’s a good situation for me,” Parker said. “Trae Young is someone who can not only score but distribute. John Collins is a very, very good player.”
There is, of course, nothing surprising about a newly-signed player speaking positively about his new organization but, in this case, there is something to be said for situation having a positive effect. For one, Parker has never been in an ideal situation, as he played under a mixed regime (to be kind) with Jason Kidd in Milwaukee and did so while battling ongoing knee issues. From there, Parker landed in a not-so-conducive fit in Chicago (despite it being his hometown) and, while Washington was a step up, that was always likely to be a short-term partnership between player and team due to the over-sized contract Parker originally signed with the Bulls.
Parker’s offensive fit will be interesting to monitor in Atlanta but, at the very least, he brings pedigree as a scorer and there is evidence (look no further than his production in 2016-17) of real upside. For now, though, Parker seems to understand what his role will be and he shared interesting perspective on the journey so far.
“I know the expectations,” Parker continued. “I can fulfill my role accordingly. I’m young, but they’re younger. One thing I take pride in is I’ve now been every player — from the first to last guy on the team. And I’m grateful for those experiences.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Parker was seen as a potential superstar and, alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, as a core piece for the Bucks. Those days might be gone but, given his age, there is reason to believe that Parker could rekindle the flame a bit and the understanding of his role — one that projects him as the backup power forward behind John Collins — is a good place to start.
Will he defend? Well, that’s a major question and one that can’t be fully answered until Parker is deployed within Lloyd Pierce’s scheme in Atlanta. If Parker’s defensive foibles continue at his previous career rate, it becomes difficult to deploy him in certain lineups, with the roster already posing some defensive question marks.
On the offensive end, though, the rationale behind landing Parker likely begins with his ability to individually create shots with reasonable efficiency on the second unit. That may not be the high-profile role many expected Parker to occupy by the time he was 24 years old, but that archetype could be especially useful with the Hawks, and the newly acquired forward is saying the right things.