The Boston Celtics have released Jabari Parker. With a few days left before the season’s opening, can Parker find a team and prove he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level?
Jabari Parker was once a franchise cornerstone for the Bucks
Parker was drafted 2nd overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014 (one spot in front of Embiid). He immediately made his presence felt by averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in his rookie year. Jabari continued to show his potential in his sophomore season with 14.1 points and continued to stake his claim as one of the league’s brightest talents. Parker’s peak happened in his third year after averaging 20.1 points, the highest in his career. However, it went downhill after that.
Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was drafted a year earlier, became one of the superstars in the league. Both forwards’ numbers were almost identical at some point, and Jabari’s were even better in some areas. When fans reminisce about the duo’s time in Milwaukee, they can’t help but feel sad and disappointed that things did not turn out the way they hoped for. The former Duke University standout played for different teams after Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, and Boston Celtics. He was waived recently, days before the new season tips off. All these happened barely eight years into his career.
At 26 years old, Jabari is still young, but it seems he can’t catch a break, and the future remains bleak for the forward. The Celtics want to bounce back big and enter the playoff discussions this season; cutting off Parker speaks how far the former 2nd draft pick fell from the top. It’s never a good sign when you have six teams on an eight-year NBA resume.
What Parker needs to do to get back on track
Right now, it’s best if Parker focuses on conditioning his mind and body. If he is entirely healthy, Jabari needs to focus more on the mental aspect and maybe add something to what he can bring on the floor. Can he consistently shoot 3s and make 40 percent of them? Can he increase five boards per game to increase his average to 8 to 9 rebounds per game?
Getting back on track from a torn ACL on the same knee twice and shoulder problems can take a toll on the body, and even more so on the mind. Parker can’t really go back to his pre-injury days, but he can expand his game or look elsewhere to play.
The NBA remains the dream for many players, but it isn’t for everyone. Parker may need to find options to play overseas, in the Euroleague or Chinese Basketball Association if they reopen for foreign players. Jabari can have all the playing time he needs to get his confidence back, earn money and build his fanbase. He may also wait it out, focus on improving while he waits for call-ups from teams contending in the playoffs.
If the NBA window has indeed closed for Jabari Parker, there are lots of options left. There is still life after basketball. Acceptance is the first and probably the most challenging part for any player, and Parker needs to think things through and discuss with people close to him if chasing that dream is still worth it.