Jabari Parker embracing ‘the process’ in Vegas summer league
Jabari Parker, the Milwaukee Bucks’ prized No. 2 pick, has had ups and downs but also displayed his potential during the NBA summer league.
Published: July 17, 2014 02:16PM
Updated: July 17, 2014 04:43PM
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Duke's Jabari Parker reacts following a dunk against Wake Forest during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. Duke won 83-63. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Las Vegas • As expected, Jabari Parker’s scoring ability has converted smoothly from the college game to NBA summer league basketball.

Over five days, his vast array of offense has been on display in the Las Vegas Summer League. The post moves, the step back jumpers, the ability to take it hard to the basket, or drop in feathery 3-pointers. He’s done all of that.

But it’s come in spurts.

That’s the hard part of summer league for most rookies — being consistent. And the No. 2 pick in the draft — the player most Utah Jazz fans clamored for — hasn’t been spared of those growing pains, as he continues his first real week of professional hoops.

“It’s been a process for me and for all of us,” Parker said. “I’ve felt comfortable on the court, though, and that’s the most important thing. I like my teammates a lot, and things have gotten better as time goes on.”

For Parker, the whirlwind is what takes the most getting used to. The schedule always initially hits rookies hard. There are back-to-backs in this summer league, three games in four nights on occasion. It’s gotten the best of a lot of guys. Take Jazz rookie Dante Exum for example. He was clearly exhausted in the second half of Utah’s win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.

Through it all, Parker has shown the flash and the promise that should make him a lethal NBA scorer. The Bucks have been liberal with him, playing him all over the floor in different positions.

He’s initiated offense. He’s posted up deep in the paint, and he’s faced up and gotten to the basket off the dribble. It’s part of the versatile player that Milwaukee wants him to become.

So this week, he’s often played at three positions. What he and fellow forward Giannis Antetokounmpo have shown this week should scare the rest of the league. When those two bookend forwards mature, they will have the ability to dominate on both ends.

“What’s not to be excited about him and Giannis,” is how Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney put it. “They’ve played hard and they’ve been tired, but that’s to be expected. Overall, they’ve been good players and good teammates. They’ve done what they’ve been asked to do. They are taking some lumps. But part of getting your tail whipped is bouncing back.”

Parker’s been one of the main attractions of the summer league. His matchup with Andrew Wiggins and the Cleveland Cavaliers last Friday packed Cox Pavilion. Security had to turn fans away at the door.

His results have been decidedly mixed. Parker scored 17 points against Wiggins in his debut, and pulled down 20 rebounds in his first two games.

But Parker shot just 4-15 in Sunday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns and had a dunk attempt blocked by Miles Plumlee. On Monday against the Jazz, he was clearly outplayed by his friend and former Duke teammate Rodney Hood, who dropped in 29.

“We didn’t take our matchup personal,” Hood said. “When we’re on the floor, we were definitely going to play hard against each other. But at the end of the day, he’s my brother. He’s a great player and he’s someone that I have great respect for.”

Parker’s spent the week figuring out what does and doesn’t work at the pro level. There are times he’s had the look of someone who will be hard to guard, once he gets seasoning.

And then, he’ll bully his way to the basket and have his shot blocked, which is what Rudy Gobert did to him on Monday night. For Parker, it has been one big learning experience.

“I have to keep my confidence going,” Parker said. “It doesn’t matter about the miss, it matters about the next shot. That’s going to be a big key for me now and going forward.”

About Jabari Parker

• Duke forward was the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft.

• Scored 17 points in his summer league debut.

• Has matched up with Cavs’ Andrew Wiggins and Jazz’s Rodney Hood.

INSIDE • Brandon Rush is returning to the Golden State Warriors after just one season in Utah. > C3