It seems that every 10 years or so, an NBA draft comes along that is so deep, so overflowing with talent that basketball fans and media alike call it a “once-in-a-generation” draft that just can’t miss. They say that any team that is lucky enough to pick in the top 10 of a draft like that is assured of getting a player that can remake a team and change the fortunes of any franchise.In 1984 it was players like Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and eventual Rookie of the Year winner Michael Jordan that had all of basketball talking. In 2003 we had Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and the King himself, LeBron James, who would go on to win that year’s Rookie of the Year award.
This past June, all eyes were on Brooklyn, as another such draft got under way. And while we have yet to see if it will live up to the historic significance of the 1984 and 2003 editions, the 2014 NBA Draft will always be remembered in Milwaukee as the day Jabari Parker was taken by the Bucks with the second overall pick.
When you looked at any mock draft or heard any of the experts talk about the 2014 draft and Parker’s name came up, they all said the same thing: Of all the players in this draft class, Parker is the most ready to make the move to the NBA and have an immediate impact. This is exactly what the Bucks are counting on as they enter the next stage of their rebuilding project.
And in what is sure to be a good sign, every indication is that Parker is already the clear frontrunner to be this season’s Rookie of the Year.
Parker is 6’8″, 240 pounds and physically is already NBA-ready, unlike Andrew Wiggins, who is going to have to put on some mass to compete with the bigger players in the league. Offensively Parker has all the skills he will need to compete, finishing his only season at Duke with 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game and during the recent summer leagues, he started in all five games and averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds.
And perhaps most telling of all, Parker’s fellow rookies all seem to think he has Rookie of the Year potential, too.
During the annual NBA Rookie Photo Shoot which took place earlier this month, 39 first-year players were asked a series of questions, one of which was who will be this year’s Rookie of the Year. The results were posted by John Schuhmann on NBA.com and Parker ran away with the voting, getting 52.8 percent of the vote. The closest anyone else came was Doug McDermott and Andrew Wiggins, who were tied at 8.3 percent.
Not bad for a guy who hasn’t even technically played in a single professional basketball game yet.
Parker comes into Milwaukee with a lot of expectations on his shoulders. Owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens have said he will be the lynchpin around which they will rebuild the Bucks, telling Charles Gardner of Journal Sentinel:
“I think it’s so great he wants to be there (in Milwaukee). That’s a big part of it. He can really be on the ground floor and the face of the franchise. It’s going to be a great franchise going forward.”
That’s a lot for a 19-year old to handle. But Parker, for his part, doesn’t seem fazed, telling USA Today:
“So I don’t think I’ll be the face of the program. I just want to be somebody that plays along good guys, and (who are) willing to win.”
With Wiggins still wondering where he is going to end up playing basketball this coming season and the Joel Embiid riding the bench for the foreseeable future, the Rookie of the Year award is his for the taking. If Parker can improve his defensive game and work on his shot selection, there is no reason he can join the likes of Jordan and James and become the best player to come out of the 2014 NBA Draft.