Coming into the 2013-14 NCAAB season, Jabari Parker was ranked second amongst college prospects behind only Andrew Wiggins. However, as soon as games began, Parker immediately stole the attention away from Wiggins, gaining the sole consideration as the nation’s best college basketball player.
Playing at a college as prestigious as Duke is not for everyone mainly because the school’s program is arguably the greatest in history. The stardom has not affected Parker though, as he has led the Blue Devils to a solid 23-6 record, currently holding the sixth spot in the AP Top 25.
With all of this success, Parker is still not considered the definite No. 1 pick. It’s going to be a tough decision for whoever ends up with the first pick because Parker is primarily a scorer. He’s nowhere elite at defense, although he has potential to be. Of course, Parker is still only 18 years old and who knows if he will even declare for the NBA draft?
No one is doubting his offensive abilities or how great of a player he is, but it seems like there is a ceiling for him. Scoring will not come as easily for him as it does in college nor will his rebounding. Parker has often been compared to Carmelo Anthony, yet he is in no way as highly regarded as Anthony when he attended Syracuse. If you look at his numbers though (23 PPG, 8.0 RPG), they are almost identical to Melo’s (22 PPG, 10 RPG).
For Parker to really be successful at the professional level, he is going to need to tighten up his defense as well as his fundamentals. To reach his maximum potential, Parker is probably better off staying an extra year in college.
Duke has an amazing coach in Mike Krzyzewski who could be of massive benefit to Parker. The NBA is without a doubt extremely enticing, especially since he will be getting paid millions of dollars. On the contrary, if Parker wants to make the most that he can, and be the absolute most successful professional that he can be, holding off another year is his best option. This could be the difference in him becoming the next Carmelo or the next Antawn Jamison, for example.
Anyway, assuming that Parker decides to leave at the conclusion of this season, the Los Angeles Lakers have a legitimate shot at landing him. Even though the team is a heavy possibility, he may not be the best fit for Los Angeles. The Lakers already have Kobe Bryant who is the team’s primary scorer and shot taker. Nobody has convinced him to decrease the amount of shots he takes yet, and a rookie is definitely not going to be the first.
Yes, Bryant’s career is rapidly winding down, but the same reason for passing on Carmelo goes for Parker as well. A team cannot have two players that take 20-plus shots a game. It’s just not a smart dynamic for a team with three other players also on the floor.
If Parker ends up falling to the Lakers as the most talented player remaining in the draft, they should of course select him, possibly intending to trade him afterwards. Either way, Los Angeles is way better off selecting a more defensive-minded player such as Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid. Defense needs to be the priority this offseason.