College, NBA, NBA Draft / Oct 4, 2013 / 11:15 am

An Open Letter To Philly Fans: Don’t Forget About Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker (photo. Bryan Horowitz)

Dear Sixers fans,

Whaddup yo?

I hear that this summer has been a very interesting one to say the least. Coupled with the acquisitions of a new general manager, several fresh faces in Sixers uniforms and a few trades that could potentially prove to be the smartest ideas a franchise that has needed to rebuild has had in several years, there should be some sort of excitement in the city.

People from other cities think there should be parties up and down Broad Street. Pre-made parades should be on hand for 2015 and the whole nine yards. I guess that gets annoying after a while when you know the truth.

I get it. It sucks to lose. No one likes it. Not the six-year-old Kobe Bryant wannabes traversing the grey neighborhoods of North Philly nor the prep school ballers from Saint Joe’s Prep to La Salle High. Though as unpleasant as it may seem, think of it like cough medicine. You don’t want to take it, but you have a pretty bad head cold. Aka, it’s in your best interest.

Speaking of things that may be in your best interest as fans, maybe we should bring up the 2014 NBA Draft, stop yelling, put the chairs down. While general manager Sam Hinkie and his new boy band’s lead singer, head coach Brett Brown, find unfathomable ways to progress players you may have never heard of, the losses will pile up.

There’s this new fangled thing called “tanking” and apparently it’s all the rage with the kids. It’s the new form of fun in the NBA, and of course, David Stern hates those things called fun. They’ll be the death of us all.

Even though tanking is sweeping the basketball nation, the pay-dirt is well worth the wait. In a draft class potentially more electric than the LeBron James-led 2003 Draft, there are many hidden gems to be found in the sand. This is where guys like Hinkie salivate at the mouth (remember Chandler Parsons?).

Now bear with me, this next part is going to sound quite silly. The focus for the Sixers – as well as other franchises that will be tanking – should not completely be on Andrew Wiggins. See I told you, silly talk.

Although Wiggins is an athletic freak of nature and has every franchise, besides the Miami Heat, foaming at the mouth, a 6-7 wing player who posses multiple assets that scream “immediate star power,” he’s still only one player. Can you build around him? Absolutely. But for a team like the Sixers, the rebuilding shouldn’t be prolonged. The turn around to produce another playoff roster should be rapid. Two years maximum.

What’s even sillier than forgetting about Wiggins will be embracing his biggest competition to stay at the number one position during the collegiate season, the other number 22, Chicago’s Jabari Parker.

But I know this could sound a little preachy, so I’ll let someone else tell their side of the story.

“A lot of people are projecting Jabari based on his skill level and body type to have a Carmelo Anthony type impact in the pros,” a college scout close to Duke basketball told me last week. “But I think he contributes in the NBA not just from a scoring perspective like Carmelo, but also in other facets of the game like rebounding, defense, and communication. I think he helps a variety of teams like Phoenix, Boston, Philly, Utah and many others who may be in position to draft him next year if he comes out. His mental approach to the game is already at an elite level, and he’ll blend very well with NBA teams due to that approach he takes.”

See? Parker likes Philly before he even knows it.

The 6-8, 235-pound Parker has the most versatile skill-set of any swingman in the 2013 class. Comparing him to Wiggins, Parker is a much more complete player. The forward possesses a very developed midrange jumper combined with excellent court vision, IQ, and a refined perimeter game.

Now of course, he’s not flawless.

“I’m not quite as high on Jabari Parker [as others are],” a national college and high school scout told me late last week. “He’s incredibly skilled, perhaps as skilled as any player in the class, and his perimeter skills are tantalizing for a player of his size. But he settles for too many shots. Most of his post moves end up going away from the basket, and when he creates from the perimeter he sometimes struggles to get all the way to the basket, and I’m not sure that’s not going to become more problematic as he climbs up to tougher competition. His lack of elite athleticism doesn’t help ease this concern.

“That being said, he should step in and be a very good collegiate scorer from day one, something Duke will need with the loss of Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly from last year’s squad.”

Parker is lacking many pieces defensively. He gets lost defending the ball off the dribble and lacks advanced lateral quickness, as well as weak perimeter defense, making his likeness to Anthony and even Rudy Gay even more appropriate. He’s been faced with multiple injuries during his senior season. His weight fluctuates occasionally as well.

Though his problems are obvious, it’s less to fix than Wiggins, who’s lacking a developed midrange, superior court vision and a perimeter game for the next level. He’s just, you know, closer to being like James than regular people like you or I.

And the Sixers need a player as developed as Parker when dealing with multiple faces that don’t come close to his talent level on the floor. That, and the 800 (okay so like five or so) draft picks the club could have their hands on by 2014. Furthermore, their current roster (before Hinkie gets trade-happy) isn’t too tantalizing. Sorry guys, I had to break the news sometime.

Since the golden era of Hinkie began, Darius Morris, James Anderson, Royce White, Tony Wroten Jr., Michael Carter-Williams (or Uno as his flat topped friend calls him) and Nerlens Noel, among other young players, have found their way to Philly. Again, tantalizing it is not. But there lies the point.

Noel is injured for the foreseeable future. What that means is that no one knows when he’ll be back, but the front office is crossing their fingers he’ll get on the basketball court before Andrew Bynum does. Which means at least once. Carter-Williams is a pure passer with no targets. And the Sixers “Big Three” consist of Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.

Let that sink in.

Hit page 2 for more about the possibilities of Parker playing in Philly…

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