While the NBA’s crazy offseason was in full throttle, the Hawks sat back in silence – much like they did at this time last year, waiting for the best value. They believe they have found that in former #2 overall pick Jabari Parker.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 8, 2019
This is a signing very similar to the one they made last year in the form of Alex Len. Len was a high lottery pick that never panned out in Phoenix. With the Hawks; however, he put up the best numbers of his career. Travis Schlenk is hoping for similar results from Parker.
The once heralded Duke freshman was originally handicapped by injuries to begin his career. As a rookie, he was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in October and November – only to have his season halted by a torn ACL. He was able to make his return the next year and post 14.1 points on 49.3% from the field in 76 games and was only improving on those numbers in his third season before suffering another devastating knee injury. Parker was averaging 20.1 points on 49% from the field and demonstrated a tremendous amount of progress as a three-point shooter, but he’s yet to look the same since.
Despite the injury concerns, the Bulls took a chance on the hometown product from the highly touted basketball factory that is Simeon High School, signing him to a two-year, $40 million deal. This is where Parker’s other glaring fault became more of a national issue.
The 6’8″ power forward showed up to camp well out of shape. That didn’t make the Bulls happy after they just spent a boatload of money to acquire him. On top of that, his defensive effort was non-existent, and he became a locker room problem, leading to him being traded to the Wizards. Parker finished the remainder of the season in Washington, but they did not pick up his team option, making him a free agent.
The issues surrounding Parker are legitimate. He’s been an awful defender over his career and has suffered multiple substantial injuries. How much of a locker room distraction he is depends on who you ask. But knowing Travis Schlenk and Lloyd Pierce, they would not have made this signing if they felt like he was uncoachable.
What Parker immediately brings to Atlanta is bench depth. He fills in the backup role behind John Collins at the power forward spot and will provide a scoring boost to the second unit – something they desperately needed. But this signing has the opportunity to be much more because of Parker’s upside.
This was a player that was averaging 20 points in the NBA as a 21-year-old. There aren’t many guys in the history of the league that can say that. He has shown the ability to expand his game past the three-point line as well and should only improve on that in Atlanta. If Parker can become somewhat reliable defensively and avoid injury; this should be another noteworthy bargain signing by Travis Schlenk and the Hawks.