Jabari Parker took his time to decide whether or not he should return to Duke for one more year of college basketball. Ultimately, he saw the NBA as the best place to continue to grow as a man and basketball player. The money can’t hurt, either.
With stud prospects like Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart also having declared earlier this month, Parker now joins an extremely deep 2014 NBA Draft class. Not surprisingly, his entrance into the draft pool will hear up draft chatter, how he will project to the next level, and what kind of impact he might have on the 2014 fantasy basketball scene.
To get a better idea of what we can expect from Parker in both the real world and the fantasy realm, let’s take a close look, while also trying to gauge his value on his new potential NBA team:
Parker is just flat-out solid. He does all the little things NBA coaches are going to want from a star player, has the ideal size and length for an NBA small forward and simply knows the game of basketball. One of Parker’s best attributes might actually be the fact that he has such good character. He wants to learn, he wants to get better and most of all, he wants to win. He had a very good freshman season at Duke, where he proved he could be a go-to scorer at a high level, while also attacking the boards and playing sound team defense.
Across the board, Parker is an extremely efficient player. He is remarkably consistent in almost every facet of the game, seemingly never taking plays off or disappearing for long stretches like some stars often do at the college level. Parker has fantastic awareness on both ends of the floor and knows when to pick his spots or set up his teammates on offense. The best part? The kid isn’t done getting better. Combine his upside with his already terrific skill-set and his desire to improve, and Parker could easily be the top overall prospect in this draft class.
While Parker is extremely solid athletically, he’s not really a freak in that department. Thanks to solid athleticism and good size and length, however, this won’t be a major problem. Parker is also a solid outside shooter and free throw shooter, but he can still stand to improve in these areas. He is a willing defender, as well, but he can also work on his lateral quickness and timing on defense.
Just based on pure odds, one of the aforementioned three teams are most likely to have a crack at Jabari Parker. It’s pretty likely one of them lands the #1 overall pick, while the other two could easily fall in line at two and three overall. Parker is a very complete player with an NBA-ready game, so it really wouldn’t make much sense for him to fall out of the top-three. In fact, it’s going to take something special out of another prospect to not have him be the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
While it’s still possible some other team lands the top pick or a top-three pick, we need to operate under the assumption one of the worst teams in the league will get a crack at Parker. With that in mind, let’s break down his potential fantasy value on each franchise:
The Bucks have some talent they want to groom on the wing, but they currently do not have anyone close to Parker’s potential. That, and Parker has the game and mind-set to step up right now as a rookie and produce. The Bucks are a bad team that is not particularly well built or well coached, so it probably wouldn’t be the ideal landing spot for Parker. Still, it’d be hard to see Parker not starting early on and being very productive. The Bucks really need help on offense and outside of point guard Brandon Knight forcing the issue, currently do not have an offensive player that can take over games. Parker could be that guy for the Bucks.
Philly has already talked about swinging Thaddeus Young out to a more natural small forward spot. However, if they draft Parker, they may have to forget about that. Parker is perfectly built for the NBA three, and should be able to step in right away and be a star on this Sixers squad. Philadelphia lacks a true go-to scorer and really needs more players that both have an elite skill-set and can actually be coached. Considering how young and inexperienced they are, having a player like Parker who can basically be a coach on the floor with such strong leadership could be extremely helpful. Parker would be a real threat for Rookie of the Year and would be a guy everyone would want to own in fantasy basketball. His presence surely wouldn’t mean Philly would be competitive suddenly in 2014, but the franchise would certainly be on the right track.
Not necessarily last in the running, the Magic could have a real shot at landing Parker and could definitely use him. They’ve added some nice young talent over the years, but still lack a true go-to scorer. The days of smaller guards like Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo constantly initiating offense need to be over, while Orlando still doesn’t know what they have in Tobias Harris and some of their other young small forwards. Ideally, Harris could slide into the four spot permanently, allowing Parker to come in at the three and be the star the Magic have been waiting for. With Nikola Vucevic locking down the center spot, the Magic are likely to go after a wing player, with small forward likely the front-running need. If Parker is there when the Magic pick, don’t be shocked if he’s their guy. With a solid cast of talent already around him, landing with the Magic might actually be Parker’s ideal destination for maximum fantasy success as a rookie. Jabari Parker would be able to come in and be that go-to scorer, while not feeling the immense pressure he’d feel with a team like the 76ers.