If Jabari Parker makes himself available in the NBA Draft this year, he should be taken #1. If I were the decision maker for whatever team tanks the best and gets lucky to draw the first pick, Parker would be 100% my choice. It’s a no brainer.
Parker is a strong, developed, and skilled player already – as a freshman. You already see that he has the skills to be successful in the NBA – I would even argue that in the right system, he would be a 20+ point scorer if he skipped out on college and played in the NBA today.
What About Wiggins and Embiid?
Yes, I hear all the arguments now. Both Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon have extreme potential and both can jump out of the gym. You can’t teach Parker to have Joel Embiid’s 7-0 body and developing footwork. It’s hard to pass up good point guards such as Dante Exum and Tyler Ennis — seeing as the point guard position is the toughest position in the NBA to learn. Marcus Smart and Julius Randle are very strong players in their own right, too.
That said, Jabari Parker has the requisite skills now.
The 6-8 Parker doesn’t have very many weaknesses. He’s as good a shooter as he is attacking the basket -just as likely to his a step back jumper as he is to convert around the basket. He can post up smaller players and can go around bigger players. He rebounds very well for his size. He can dribble and run the break. He shows a great understanding for the game and is a underrated defender.
He may not jump out of the gym, but Parker can get up.
As a freshman, he is leading Duke in points (19.3) and rebounding (8.8).
The only average thing about Parker? He is just a capable passer, only shoots 74% from the free-throw line and turns the ball over 2.4 times a game – all of which would improve if he stayed in college another year.
If he comes back to Duke – expect Parker to be even better next year. If he doesn’t — avoid risk and the temptation around “potential,” Parker is an NBA player now. Today. And he’ll only get better which isn’t necessarily a lock with any of the other players.