Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Milwaukee Bucks star, but third-year man Jabari Parker is beginning to raise some eyebrows.
The Bucks trounced the Detroit Pistons by 25 on Wednesday night, and the explosion from Parker was the catalyst. This, however, is no fluke. He finished the game with 31 points and has now eclipsed 25 in three of his last five games while shooting better than 55 percent from the field.
While Antetokounmpo was getting all of the attention, Parker stayed as the Bucks’ silent killer, but his game is starting to speak more and more loudly.
Parker, a 6-8 forward who’s built like a less muscular LeBron James, is showing why the talk surrounding him has been so grand. On the season, he’s averaging 20.3 points a night. More impressively, he’s efficient and nails 49.5 percent of his shots overall while hovering around 38 percent from downtown.
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Over the last five games, Parker’s scoring balloons to 24.6, and he shoots a staggering 45 percent from three — quite impressive for someone who shot less than 26 percent last year. Against Detroit, he dropped 31. Jabari’s ability to knock down outside shots regularly is what makes him such a threat from inside the arc. That’s nothing new. Most NBA players who can knock down threes can get to the cup. However, he’s solid from beyond 15 feet, which is why he can do damage around the basket.
He shoots 62.2 percent from on shots inside of five feet, according to NBA.com, which is less than what most other superstars are shooting. For comparison, Kevin Durant shoots 78 percent and leads the league. Despite being middle-of-the-pack percentage-wise, Parker is one of four players who get more than eight shots per game within that area. That’s no fluke.
Surprisingly, Parker is an incredibly explosive athlete. He’s got a mediocre first step, so it’s not prevalent off the dribble, but vertically, the former Blue Devil can elevate with the best of them. Furthermore, his robust frame allows him not to get knocked around in the air, and he can play bully ball if need be.
He’s able to play with his back to the basket against a bigger or smaller player. Expectedly, the mismatch dictates what Parker wants to do. If the defender is smaller, it’s Bar-be-que chicken; if he’s bigger, he’s agile enough to blow by them.
Should Parker to choose not to be the first option, he can play off Antetokounmpo. Cuts don’t happen much, only two times a night, but it often leads to dunks because the defense is so vested in stopping Giannis.
The last thing that’s been noticeable during this stretch is Parker’s activity on the backboards. He’s got three games with more than eight rebounds and is averaging 6.6 over the five games. This is dangerous.
If the defense is caught sleeping, Parker is one of those forwards who’s comfortable with the ball in his hands and can easily go coast-to-coast after hauling in the rebound. Not only do you need to worry about the Greek Freak, but also Jabari.
Despite all of this, the Bucks are just 2-3 in those games. Both wins have come by 25 and 27 while two of those losses have decided by 11 points total. Milwaukee is still trying to figure themselves out, and they could have two All-Stars playing for them when they do.
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