Will Jabari Start This Year?


Jabari has played in 10 games since returning to action after a year of recovery and rehabilitation. Maybe it’s because I wrote him off after his second ACL tear, maybe it’s because I wasn’t confident he’d be a Buck long-term after failing to agree to an extension, maybe it’s just because I have a terrible memory, but I have been in awe at how great he’s been since returning to Milwaukee’s rotation.

Prunty and the Bucks’ staff have done an excellent job easing him into the lineup and gradually increasing his minutes, which started around 15 per game and topped out against Washington, Tuesday night where he closed out the game with 27. He played in his first back to back, second game Wednesday night with his minutes decreased to 18. Jabari looked fatigued against Detroit, but to be fair so did everybody else, which is understandable after playing two overtimes over the weekend and a nail-biter the night before. Prunty has told reporters’ that their is a plan for Parker. He didn’t give specifics, but emphasized that they have a plan in place that they will follow.

Jabari has averaged 10.8 points on 48% from the field and 44% from 3 in 19.5 minutes since coming back, making him the Bucks’ most efficient offense player and with February having been Giannis and Khris’ worst month of the year he’s oftentimes looked like their most effective option on offense. Jabari’s also played with a level of defensive intensity we hadn’t seen earlier in his career and is averaging 5.4 boards over his last 5 games. It honestly feels like he was the only one listening when Jason Kidd repeatedly stressed “energy and effort” being the missing element keeping the team from reaching their potential.

So here’s the question everybody’s been asking and many fans seem to have mixed opinions on. Jabari Parker, the #2 overall pick in 2014, the man who started 50 games and averaged 20.1 points per game last season…can he, should he, start on this team?

There’s only one right answer here, and it’s yes. Not only can he start, but he absolutely should; especially if Milwaukee wants to fulfill their goal of making it out of the first round of this year’s playoffs. I understand the necessity to be patient and make sure he’s ready to take on that kind of workload. I’m just as nervous as anybody about him getting re-injured. Every time he makes an explosive move or falls to the ground know that I’m cringing and sending up a quick prayer right along with you.

Here’s the thing though, we only have 21 more games before the playoffs start and if Jabari is going to start we’re going to want to give him some time to gel with the 1st team. Thus far in ten games he’s only spent 12 minutes on the floor with both Giannis and Middleton. This after the three played together for a total of 0 minutes last year, not to mention his obvious lack of experience with Eric Bledsoe.

The Bucks’ also have a tendency to come out flat in the first and second halves, Jabari on the other hand has proven his ability to come in to the game cold and be an instant spark on offense. He also brings a physicality to the game very few of the guys seem capable of, especially when rebounding, which is a glaring weakness Milwaukee needs to correct asap. Having this element off the jump would help set the momentum of the game in the Bucks’ favor rather than using it in an attempt to scratch and claw their way back into the mix. I’d even be okay with keeping his mpg around 30 as long as he’s starting and ending halves.

To be fair, I really have no reason to believe Prunty isn’t intending to start him this season. Like I said his minutes have increased gradually as time has gone on without much sign of slowing down. If this trend continues and he starts to mix it up with the first team with 10-15 games left that might be enough to allow a starting lineup of Bledsoe, Middleton, Parker, Antetokounmpo, and Henson to hit their stride just in time for their first round matchup. That five with Brogdon, Snell, Brown, Jet, Thon, and Zeller giving quality minutes off the bench might have just enough juice to oust the Wizards or Celtics.


About Bobby Gilligan

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