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Posts Tagged ‘Jabari Parker

Hey Jabari, Sorry

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Jabari Parker is considered a surefire top 3 pick and possible #1 overall. Currently he rates outside of my top 10 talents in the draft. I wanted to dig deeper into my reservations with how he is getting rated by conventional wisdom

Consider this article on ESPN.com between Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton. Ford starts the article stating:

Jabari Parker is such an interesting player from a draft perspective. He clearly looks to be the most NBA-ready of the players on our Big Board. His offensive game seems like it will obviously translate. Everyone uses words such as “NBA-ready” and “low-risk” when describing Jabari.

Ford is giving a brief on why teams like Jabari. He is considered a lock to score well in the NBA and quickly, to the point where Ford uses the word “obvious” multiple times. The conventional wisdom viewpoint of Jabari is while players like Andrew Wiggins have a higher upside, with Parker you know what you are getting. A high volume, go-to scorer thanks to his size and polish on the perimeter.

There is of course, no meat in this analysis as to why he’s so NBA ready and low risk. I don’t mean to bag on Chad Ford because he deserves his paycheque. He is a talented writer and entertainer on a website motivated to drive traffic to draft articles. Criticizing him for not rating prospects right, is like judging a charismatic news anchor for not understanding the economy.

This article from mid-April from the Bucks sbnation blog BrewHoop, gives a clearer idea for the “why” in the Jabari is safe analysis:

Jabari Parker

What does he bring? Polish and skill. An NBA-ready body and style of play. A great locker room presence and coachability. All things Milwaukee could definitely use. Parker might be the player most capable of instantly improving the fortunes of the club that drafts him, which may or may not hold some allure to Milwaukee’s new owners. But the most enticing thing Parker brings to the table is his shot creation. He’s got the sort of “something from nothing” skill that separates the elite players from the rabble.

How bad do the Bucks need him? So so so much. Milwaukee put up some strong offensive numbers in the second half of last season, but it was painfully obvious that the Bucks need more guys who can initiate sets and create decent shots for teammates. Parker is a guy who can do that. He’d take a ton of pressure off Milwaukee’s primary ball handlers, allowing everybody to better fill the roles they can excel in. Brandon Knight could become more of a shooter. Giannis could become more of a playmaker. And Ilyasova could be more of a trade chip.

This makes the conventional wisdom picture on Parker clearer. Part of the reason why Parker is considered a surefire good NBA scorer, because he can “create his own shot”. Based on doing just this in college, Parker’s fans envision giving him the ball in the mid-post area, allowing him to back down opponents for a turnaround jumper, or facing up to create space off the dribble to have an open shot over defenders. This is the advantage of size and polished skill. Although Jabari may not be the most efficient scorer, it’s expected he’ll get his 20 a game by this ability to create offense himself. Like Carmelo.

In the ESPN article again Pelton’s initial response to Ford helps back this “creating offense” perspective statistically:

Right now, Parker’s most elite skill is his ability to create shots. He used 32.7 percent of Duke’s possessions this year, putting him in the top 25 nationally and far ahead of other top freshmen like Wiggins (26.3 percent), Embiid (23.4 percent) and Julius Randle (25.4 percent). In my database, just five freshmen who have entered the draft have had a higher translated usage rate: Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, Tyreke Evans, Kris Humphries and O.J. Mayo.

In the context of that large role, Parker’s efficiency was decent. He’s not yet a great 3-point shooter (35.8 percent) and was only decent inside the arc (50.4 percent), but among the group of high-usage one-and-done players, only Beasley was notably more efficient in college. In time, I think Parker will grow into a high-usage, high-efficiency player, not unlike his most similar statistical comparison: Carmelo Anthony.

Of course, “creating your own shot” in the NBA has a different meaning than it did for teams 10-15 years ago and beyond. Getting your shot off in any form has become less valued, getting good shots at the rim, free throw line or from 3 has become more valued. Creating mid-range shots is less valued, because many teams now leave the mid-range area open, baiting teams to take them.

That’s not to say isolation mid-range scoring, lacks value. The ability for a player to create his own offense from mid-range, can be a back breaker for a defense if they’d otherwise defended the play well. When shots from 3 and at the rim aren’t available, the post-fueled mid-range creating players like Joe Johnson and Carmelo can provide, becomes a good bailout option. If they can create a shot going in 40% of the time, while the opponent in the same situation has to throw up a shot going in 25% of the time, it can be a game breaking advantage – especially in the tighter defended playoffs.

The question is whether this is enough to draft Jabari top 3. Part of the reason it’s arguably not is in the numbers. League average efficiency is around .54 true shooting % (TS), while even the great mid-range shooters, are typically around 40-45% (Carmelo: .447 eFG from 16-23 feet). True shooting % under .50 tends to get frowned upon as a sign the player should shoot less. Carmelo’s true shooting percentage is .56. Paul George, another high volume mid-range shooter, hits .55 TS despite .397 eFG from 16-23 feet. The reason they are still above average efficiency players, is they still take 3s, get to the rim and get to the free throw line enough to make up for it. Teams aren’t just giving them the ball to take mid-range shots. Their responsibility is primarily creating the shots at the rim, from free throw line and from 3, then that responsibility extends to taking mid-range shots when the team is out of options. Take away the driving and outside shooting and it’s not just that they become less efficient, but they wouldn’t remain high volume players either. Their teams would take the ball out of their hands and give it to better drivers and outside shooters. Taking way their driving and outside shooting doesn’t make them high volume inefficient players, it just makes them lower volume players.

Melo and George’s ability to create mid-range shots is valued, but it’s one piece of a larger puzzle. They wouldn’t be offensive stars without the tools to drive and shoot 3s first and foremost.

My larger point is this. For Jabari to be a “safe” NBA scorer, it’s not just about the tools to put up a lot of shots, particularly from mid-range. It depends on a combination of his 3 point jumpshot, his midrange scoring ability and his tools driving to the rim translating. The moment one takes away 3 point shooting or driving to the rim, he becomes a less “safe” prospect offensively, if not altogether risky. Without the driving and shooting tools in his repertoire, he wouldn’t get the trust from his team or touches to be one of the league’s high volume scorers. He would just get buried and become another guy.

The question after this is, how well will Jabari shoot and drive to the rim? His upside in the latter appears to be limited by lack of strong athleticism. Although Parker handles well in transition, when looking at his games/clips, I didn’t see separation on the perimeter off the dribble.

How about his outside shooting? Parker hit 35.8% from the shorter NCAA 3pt line, which is solid for a freshman. His 3 point volume of 3.0 3PA a game and his free throw percentage of 74.8% FT are both respectable. Jabari did enough to prove he could be a good shooter. But he didn’t separate himself from NCAA peers in shooting stroke like other prospects such as Nik Stauskas or Shabazz Napier did. Here’s something worrying for Jabari: In his first 3 games of the season, he went 11 for 16 from 3. As he went 38 for 106 from 3 for the season, it means his last 32 games of the year he shot 27 for 90 from 3, just 30% on 2.8 attempts a game. That so much of how we feel about a prospect’s shooting ability can be affected by 3 games, is a sign of why trusting 3P% alone can be scary and why I favor also looking at volume and FT%. Parker did not have a better 3 point shooting or free throw shooting season than Andrew Wiggins, who’s future as a perimeter scorer is considered a more risky proposition.

Carmelo Anthony is not just a great mid-range creator. He’s a great 3 point shooter and he has a dynamic first step to drive to the rim and draw fouls. The size and feel for the game that Jabari shares with Carmelo, may be less than half of what makes Carmelo such a talented player. If in the other half including areas like athleticism and outside shooting they are incomparable players, the comparison does not hold too valid.

The “disappointment to bust” version of Jabari would likely begin with in inability to drive to the rim or shoot 3s, which in combination with defensive inabilities, could be devastating for the team who takes him top 3. That’s not to say he’ll be a bust. The better a 3 point shooter he becomes, the closer to stardom he’ll get. But he also has a low floor. That should not be ignored.

Written by jr.

May 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Why I wouldn’t take Jabari Parker top 10 in the 2014 draft

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Duke’s Jabari Parker is widely considered a favorite to be picked top 3 in 2014, if not 1st overall. Through his high school to college career, he’s been one of the most productive players of his age group and a star name.

However, I would not take him top 10 in 2014.

Why?

First, let’s give Jabari credit for his strength. His feel for the game is exceptional, showing great fluidity, craftiness and ability to adjust mid drive or post-up. He’s been credited for elite instincts for years and it’s deserved.

But even though I talk about feel for the game the most, even I only rate it as 1/3 of basketball talent. I have major concerns with Jabari in the other 2/3.

Everyone knows Jabari is not a great athlete, in fact I would call his speed and explosiveness legitimately subpar for a SF or PF. Adding to this is that I am not impressed by Jabari’s ballhandling. That he does not make many plays based off the dribble, is perhaps why he is averaging a surprisingly low 1.3 assists per game despite his great feel and point forward history in high school. It is hard for a player to average the assists of a point forward when they are not handling like one. When added to his athleticism, I have huge concerns about whether Jabari will attack the rim off the dribble consistently, despite having the strength to finish at the basket well.

If not a dynamic “slasher”, Jabari will just have to be an elite perimeter/finesse scorer. But in this area I also have concerns. Jabari is hitting 36.7% from 3pt on 3.3 attempts a game, which is fine but unspectacular. Worryingly, of his 29 for 79 3 point shots/attempts this season, he went 11 for 16 in his first 3 games of the season, meaning he’s gone 18 for 63 (28.6%) in the 21 games since. Jabari has been frankly bad as a 3 point shooter after his hot start. His free throw percentage of 74.1% is respectable, but I typically like to see players over 80% before calling them locks to be 3 point threats in the NBA. In comparison to Parker, Andrew Wiggins who has the reputation of a less skilled player is hitting 36.7% from 3 on 3.4 attempts a game and 77.1% from the FT line, shooting marks better across the board than Parker’s.

To use a comparison, Xavier Henry was drafted specifically to hit 3s after hitting 41.8% from 3 on 4.6 attempts a game as a freshman, but with only a 78.3% FT. After his shooting went in the wrong direction in the NBA, without a slashing game he simply didn’t have anything to lean on offensively, at least until a mini-resurgence this year. Wes Johnson and Adam Morrison are two other prospects drafted for shooting with FT% in the 70s who went on to struggle more than expected in the area in the NBA. While very early Otto Porter’s inability to shoot from range in the NBA despite a 3P% over 42% last year, also makes him a candidate to go down the path of Henry, Johnson and Morrison.

If Jabari became a disappointment/bust, I would see him following the pathway of Henry. Despite a strong feel for the game, Henry’s athleticism/ballhandling combo or “slashing” tools were weak enough that when his 3 point shot didn’t translate, he didn’t have a fallback and simply got lost offensively in the shuffle. Likewise, my ‘worst case’ scenario for Jabari offensively is having him neither a consistent outside shooter, or one who can make plays off the dribble. In addition to expected defensive concerns as neither being a fit against SFs or PFs on that end, struggling offensively would make it really hard for him to contribute. On the other hand if he become an elite shooter at SF or PF when added to his feel for the game, it would be enough to be a starter and “blue chipper”, but attacking the basket concerns would still make me rate him less of a star.

Or in short, my position on Parker is this: I feel the media is mixing up his feel for the game with an elite skill level. Parker is not an exceptional shooter, ballhandler, passer for a SF and while competent in the post, is not jumping off the screen in the area. If grading his skill level as underwhelming in this way, when adding it to his athletic concerns – well it leaves him with a lot more holes as a prospect than his reputation suggests.

Here is my talent grades for Parker, grading him at PF where I most expect him to play

11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Weak, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

What the overall grades mean:

25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

Jabari Parker

Physical impact (Athleticism, ballhandling, size) talent grade: 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade: 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

This is not a bad grade, simply not enough to rank in my top 10. As for player comparisons, 3 recent prospects Jabari reminds me of are Tobias Harris and Marcus and Markieff Morris. Like them they are between SF and PF in size, have a strong feel for the game and have good, but not elite outside shots yet. But at PF perimeter jumpshots are relatively rare enough for me to rank them above average in the category. They should mark out nice, long careers in the NBA but if taking Jabari top 3 in a heralded 2014 draft, teams have to be expecting so much more than that.

Written by jr.

February 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Why Mario Hezonja is my #1 ranked prospect in the 2014 draft

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The 2014 draft class should be a doozy. The amount of prospects who are celebrities in high school is historic: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison are among the players with national publicity.

Right now Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker top most boards, with the Wiggins’ hype as particularly enormous. They are great prospects but I have my reservations about both. As I posted here, I feel Wiggins’ athletically is overrated as he is not a dynamic blow-by player off the dribble. He also has a raw shooting and ball-handling game. Wiggins has an amazing feel for the game but I’m concerned whether he’ll have the first step and ballhandling to be an elite slasher, or whether he’ll shoot well enough from long distance. As for Jabari in a way he is the anti-Wiggins. He has an outstanding skill game, highlighted by his shooting and post ability for a high school player and is a crafty dribbler and creator. He has a tremendous feel and IQ. The concern with him is athleticism and whether he’s an explosive enough player to consistently slash and create offense getting to the rim, or whether he’ll be a player forced to settle for perimeter jumpers. Both to me should end up blue chip players for a franchise, but I have concerns about whether they have complete enough talent bases to take it to the next level and be an All-NBA, transcendent franchise player.

Mario Hezonja to me is the most complete small forward prospect of the 3. Hezonja is a terrific slasher due to his ball-handling and first step, with the size to finish at the rim. He’s also an outstanding perimeter shooter and shot creator. Like Wiggins and Parker he has a tremendous feel for the game and IQ and craftiness creating his offense. Hezonja thus is somewhat of a middle ground between Wiggins and Parker. Wiggins is a high end athlete who needs to improve his ball-skills, while Parker is a high end skill player who may not be explosive or athletic enough in the NBA. Hezonja is both explosive and a high end skill player. To me he looks like the complete package for a perimeter offensive prospect, with the ability to attack the basket off the dribble, to hit the outside shot at an elite rate and having the natural feel and IQ to make it all work. The more I see of him, the more complete and dynamic his game and talent looks. To quote Monta Ellis, Mario Hezonja have it all.

A few years ago on a message board, I heard a poster make an astute comment about European and International prospects. He said that because of the failed European picks in the top 10 years like Darko Milicic, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Yi Jianlian, Andrea Bargnani, etc., as well as the “International Man of Mystery” feel to these prospects instead of the familiar NCAA production – that there is a stigma and fear about ranking European prospects too high. And that because of this, eventually those failed European draft picks, will come back to bite teams when they underrate and are too fearful of the next international star whenever he comes. Eventually simply because of odds and time there will be a superstar talent who’s ranked in the top 10 of a draft – and in all likelihood, being international and the fear that comes with that will be what prevents him from going #1. Mario Hezonja may or may not be that guy, but looks like he has the best chance of any International player in years to make that prediction come to fruition. Even if Parker and Wiggins’ weaknesses are apparent after next college season, it seems obvious no team would have the balls to take Mario Hezonja 1st over them. We’ll see if that’s a mistake or not.

Written by jr.

February 11, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Draft Prospect Friday: Jabari Parker vs Andrew Wiggins – Who is the better high school prospect?

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The two most hyped pre-NBA prospects are not in the 2013 draft. SF Jabari Parker looks to be a top pick in 2014 and SG/SF Andrew Wiggins in 2015, unless he can reclassify to the year before and go to college a year early. Right now Wiggins is ranked ahead by consensus rankings. But who is the more talented prospect?

SF Jabari Parker

Physical impact: Jabari has terrific size and strength for a SF, allowing him to finish at the rim and shoot his jumper over opponents. He does not have the most explosive first step in the world. Score: 6

Skill: Jabari is one of the most skilled players in high school. He can shoot from all over the court and has a strong passing game. For a small forward, his skill talent can be devastating. Score: 10

Feel for the Game: Jabari’s strength, his feel for the game and smoothness to his offensive is simply tremendous. Score: 10

Total score: 26 (Superstar talent score)

Overall analysis: Jabari’s combination of size, shooting/passing skill and elite feel for the game is possibly devastating. He looks like a player made to score over 25 points a game in the NBA in the way Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant’s combination of size, skill and feel are/were devastating scorers. High end: Paul Pierce, Middle ground: Danillo Gallinari, Low end: Harrison Barnes

SG/SF Andrew Wiggins Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

October 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm

MVP/Power Rankings Monday – The 10 most likely future NBA MVPs (who haven’t won any yet)

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Kevin Durant waiting for the tip-off in OKC vs...

Kevin Durant is a near cinch for future MVP (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The NBA MVP feels the most important of the 4 major sports’. Since the best player in basketball matters more than the rest, so does the all-time rankings of players – and next to championships, MVPs are the most prestigious award they can get. Furthermore the NBA is unique from the other sports in that only the greatest talents even have a shot at the award, while in the NFL, MLB and NHL a very good but not transcendent talent can win an MVP if he breaks out to a spectacular statistical season. The MVP club is a much more exclusive lounge to join in the NBA.

Here are my rankings of who the most likely future MVPs are, among players who haven’t been awarded with one yet

Tier 1 – The frontrunners

1. SF Kevin Durant – A near lock to eventually get an MVP. He’s finished 2nd twice, is the dominant scorer in the league and is a media favorite due to his class and hard work. Most importantly perhaps is that winning an MVP just about requires finishing top 2 in the conference and Durant’s Thunder have the talent to consistently grab 1st and 2nd place finishes in the West for the rest of his prime. It’s much more likely Durant wins 2 or more MVPs than it is he wins 0.

2. PG Chris Paul – With 2nd and 3rd place finishes he’s proven he has the respect of MVP voters due to his transcendent true PG ability. Like Durant on the Clippers with Blake Griffin beside him he has the talent to lead a team strong enough to win an MVP and if the Clippers ever get that high, the narrative of saving that once tortured franchise will play in his favor.

3. C Dwight Howard – Like Durant and Paul he’s a consensus superstar who has 2nd, 4th and 4th MVP finishes. He’s easily the best at his position and the value of dominant two way centers has been recognized. My only concern with him is that after leading 59 W seasons in both 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, he still only was rewarded with 4th place finishes both years. Even in the year he finished 2nd many argued Derrick Rose didn’t have the same value to his team enough to beat him. Is it possible Dwight’s lack of dominant scoring talent and polish hurts his chances of getting MVP respect? Perhaps, but he deserves to be ranked top 3 at worst. Read the rest of this entry »