Milwaukee Bucks land Jabari Parker in NBA draft
ST. FRANCIS--Jabari Parker will be more than just a potential go-to player in the post for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The second overall pick in the NBA draft immediately becomes a face of a team looking to rebound from a franchise-worst 67-loss season. New ownership in Milwaukee hopes to construct a championship contender within five years.
Conversely, the 19-year-old Parker wanted to play for the Bucks, barely 90 minutes from his hometown of Chicago. He said he's mostly prepared for the pressure.
“Because I think my pride won't get in the way from what the team wants me to do,” Parker said. “I want to fulfill my role and I want to do whatever it takes to win.”
The Duke one-and-done star would join 19-year-old forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and scoring guard Brandon Knight as promising team cornerstones. This figures to be just the first step for an organization hoping to invigorate its fan base.
“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,” Parker said.
Still, the selection was such a big deal that the team flew a sign on the side of a blimp flying over the annual Summerfest music festival along Lake Michigan that proclaimed “The Bucks select ... Jabari Parker.”
The 6-foot-8 forward has been lauded for his offensive skills and maturity. Andrew Wiggins was also under consideration, but the Cleveland Cavaliers made the Bucks' decision much easier after taking the Kansas star with the top overall pick.
There were no last-minute trade offers, general John Hammond said, though it appears the Bucks weren't going to make any deals anyway unless it was really overwhelming.
“We were fairly assured that this is exactly what we needed to do,” Hammond said. “I feel even more so after it's done.”
Those who know Parker speak glowingly about his polished personality and leadership ability.
Former Duke assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski would be just minutes away in Milwaukee since he's now the head coach at Marquette. Parker's former high school teammate, Steve Taylor Jr., also plays at Marquette, which shares the same home court at the Bradley Center as the Bucks.
“Jabari is not only a great fit for the Bucks, but also for the city's community,” Wojciechowski said. “He will be a great ambassador for Milwaukee and has only begun to tap into his potential as a player.”
On the court, Hammond likes Parker for his ability to fit into multiple positions in the frontcourt.
“He's a matchup problem,” Hammond said. “He can create a shot for himself, can also go into the post and put his back to the basket.”
Defense, though, figures to be a work in progress. Hammond said Parker had quick feet for a big man, and noted that Parker figures to benefit from having to guard centers at times at Duke.
Milwaukee focused on the frontcourt in the second round with three selections:
n Six-foot-8 Damien Inglis with the first pick of the second and the 31st overall pick. Inglis, 19, is a small forward project who played last year in France.
n Six-foot-9 Johnny O'Bryant III from LSU with the 36th overall pick. O'Bryant averaged 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds as a junior for the Tigers last season.
n Six-foot-5 Lamar Patterson from Pittsburgh with the 48th overall pick, but his draft rights were traded to the Atlanta Hawks for a future second-round selection.
The rest of the draftees will arrive in Milwaukee just as New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens take over as owners. They bought the Bucks for $550 million this spring from former U.S. Sen Herb Kohl, who wasn't fond of using the word “rebuilding.”
But that seemingly left the team without a clear, long-term philosophy in recent years. The Bucks have drafted relatively well under Hammond, though some veteran signings haven't panned out. The new owners have said they hope to build a championship contender within three to five years, about the same time frame in which they hope to build a new arena.
That makes this draft especially important for the Bucks. Parker will be relied on to add scoring punch as well as help put fans in the seats.
He's scheduled to be in Milwaukee on Friday. First though, he was going to splurge on dinner for his parents in New York.
“I want to help them order away, give them that luxury,” Parker said, “the appetizers and the desserts.”