The Suns would have to create a tempting package or get lucky in Tuesday night’s draft lottery to grab Jabari Parker. But considering it took me less than five minutes to get the above result in ESPN’s lottery simulation after VotS founder Michael Schwartz did the same, we figure we’d cover all our bases.
Parker was the premier scorer in NCAA basketball last season, and his 19.1 points per has to be taken into context within Duke’s talented roster. At 6-foot-9 in shoes, 240 pounds and with a near 7-foot wingspan, Parker has the ability to score a la Carmelo Anthony. He can pull up off the dribble in transition, body into players in the post and shoot over either shoulder. He’s a decent passer and also has very good rebounding and shot-blocking instincts. But scoring will always be his M.O.
Defensively, Parker is a project. It doesn’t help that he’s too slow to defend NBA-level small forwards and not physical enough in the paint to bump post threats out of the paint. Though Parker has decent athletic ability, pushing him to commit to becoming a better defender might be the main project for any team that drafts him. It’s certainly not as big of a concern as one might think.
While Parker’s weight has been a mild concern in college and even as he skipped last week’s draft combine, it wasn’t an issue at Duke. Because of his body type, however, Parker might have to work harder than most to be as fit as the next guy.
Parker might take some time to get used to the NBA’s more pick-and-roll heavy offenses. In college he was fine as a one-on-one threat, always stronger or quicker than his opponents. Mike Krzyzewski sometimes played him as a center in a small-ball lineup, after all, but his shot selection will need to be more in tune with what’s available in the NBA. There will be more catch-and-shoot jumpers at his disposal, and he won’t be able to bully players at the cup or as easily break down defenders facing up. But because his instincts are so impressive, there’s little reason to think he game won’t transfer over to the NBA quite well.
How he would fit with the Suns
If the Suns were lucky enough to draft Parker as a top-3 prospect, he would seemingly plug right in to the power forward slot. He could be hidden defensively as part of a starting lineup that includes a rim-protecting big man like Miles Plumlee or Alex Len down the road. More immediately, he could potentially learn from stretch 4 Channing Frye as a big-bodied pick-and-pop threat and provide a dynamic boost off the bench.
The issue there is that Parker would be cutting into the playing time of the Morris twins, and he wouldn’t solve the Suns’ issue of needing a low post presence on offense. Then again, he would certainly complement a low-post presence if Phoenix were able to acquire one down the road. The Suns could worry about stacking up too many bodies at the power forward spot via trade at a later time — if Parker is on the board and Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are off, it’s unlikely a team would skip picking the Blue Devil.