Milwaukee Bucks: Time For The Real Jabari Parker Show

Oct 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers guard Chris Crawford (10) in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers guard Chris Crawford (10) in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

Every NBA season starts with change. It could be a little bit of change, or could be a lot of change. For rookies, no matter the talent or team they play for, it’s a lot of change. Bigger and better players, new systems, new names to learn. There’s a lot to take in.

Even for a guy like Jabari Parker. No matter the basketball IQ or NBA readiness a player may possess, the NBA is quite literally a whole different ball game.

On Wednesday, Parker begins his new journey with the Milwaukee Bucks as they travel to Charlotte to play Lance Stephenson, a freshly extended Kemba Walker and the rebranded Hornets. The Bucks will probably lose this game, as they are expected to lose a lot of games this season despite an underrated roster.

Even so, Parker has a lot to prove, and Wednesday is his first chance to do that.

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As the second overall pick in this year’s draft, Parker is already expected to succeed. Coming in as the most NBA-ready player–as many said–Parker will indeed be expected to play well right off the bat. If preseason numbers mean anything, he might not have too much trouble keeping the critics satisfied.

Playing in all but one of Milwaukee’s eight preseason games, Parker averaged 15.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 41.2 percent. The numbers are solid if you don’t look at the shooting percentage, but again, it was the preseason. Any player, no matter the experience or talent, has to shake off some rust coming into a new season.

As a rookie, shooting 40-plus percent is a win, I’d say.

The regular season, however, is a different ball game for a rookie, like I said earlier. In preseason, you’ll see some jumbled rotations and players getting quality time that wouldn’t see more than garbage minutes in games that actually meant anything. With more consistency, both from your team and the opponents, the game is different.

To Parker’s benefit, he will be playing with the same guys (for the most part) every night. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Jason Kidd shake things up here and there, but Parker will mostly be passing to and receiving passes from the same players.

This helps Parker’s adjustment to the big league simply for the chemistry. Chemistry is arguably the most important part of a basketball team winning games. Knowing your teammates makes you and them better.

While some players like Carmelo Anthony or Kobe Bryant don’t need much help from teammates to make plays, they’re not going to win without some continuity. That’s why both those players have struggled in the past few seasons, and why ‘Melo has struggled his entire career, but mostly in New York.

And don’t be fooled. When I say struggled, I’m talking about their success based on how far the team goes in the playoffs. A lot would have to go wrong for both players to struggle individually.

Even with the shooting touch he showed in college, Parker may want to limit those long ball attempts in the pros. The 3-point length difference obviously can change a good college shooter from behind the arc to just average. Even so, Parker just simply shouldn’t be outside of the paint much, because that’s where he succeeds.

Parker made one 3 in the preseason, and his most attempts from deep in a game was four. If Parker is taking two or less 3s per game, I don’t think that would be a problem.

And speaking of his post game, something that hasn’t changed from college to the pros is just that. With a big 6-foot-8, 235-pound frame, Parker is still dominating in the post like he was last season at Duke. When scouts said this guy was NBA-ready, they weren’t lying.

On the annual NBA GM Survey that was recently released, Parker led in two categories: player most likely to win Rookie of the Year and best current rookie in five years. The GMs chose Parker over first overall pick Andrew Wiggins in both categories despite Wiggins’ superstar potential.

Wiggins could be a home run or a strikeout. It’s impossible to predict right now. Parker, however, looks the part of at least a solid NBA talent. For him to prove that, he’s got to play like he should have been picked over Wiggins in June.

Being the No. 1 option on a team that went 15-67 last season could be intimidating for a rookie. If Parker overcomes the pressure and plays like he’s expected to, there’s no denying he will be a star in this league someday.

Next: NBA Power Rankings: Regular Season Opener Edition