Tag Archives: Jabari Parker

The Buck Stops Here: How Two Players Have Turned The Milwaukee Bucks Into The Model NBA Franchise

Milwaukee Bucks’ Forward Jabari Parker has been a basketball prodigy since he first could walk, always compared to another NBA MVP, Chicago native and Simeon Career Academy High School Graduate, Derrick Rose. Giannis Antetokounmpo, a relatively unknown star in the making at the time, took Greece by storm and is now one of the most “intriguing point guards in NBA history”(Jenkins, 2017) Both suit up for the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the most exciting and up and coming franchises to watch. Parker and the Antetokounmpo are here to stay, and have turned the NBA upside down.

Former All-Star, NBA Champion and Bucks’ Head Coach Jason Kidd, who was an electric 6’4 point guard, always wished he could be taller. “… I wanted so badly to be 6’7 or 6’8… guys like Magic are looking through a window that is so high, they can make passes I could only dream about.”(Jenkins, 2017). While his dream never came true, he can now coach it. Antetokounmpo stands at 6’11, has a wingspan of 7’3, and by the way, starts at point guard. The Bucks have shown that the traditional smaller point guard is an idea of the past, and at 6’11, you’re not just the “big guy” under the basket. The “Greek Freak” as he is known, is one of the most dynamic and exciting players to watch in the NBA. How can an opposing team defend a 6’11 point guard when their 6’11 center can’t keep up with the speed and grace Antetokounmpo possesses every time he hits the floor?

The new-age point guard is averaging 23.4 ppg, 8.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists and just around 2 steals and 2 blocks per game.  The last time a stat-line was filled with numbers like these was when the Lakers drafted their non-traditional point guard, the 6’9 NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Over his career Johnson averaged 19.5 ppg, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists, .4 blocks and 1.9 steals per game. At 22 years old, I am not yet putting Antetokounmpo in the same category as Magic Johnson, but showing the shared dominance the two have shown in the NBA, why haven’t more teams employed the 6’5 and taller point guard?

The athleticism shown by Antetokounmpo for his height and build is incredible, and with the Bucks needing desperately to land an impact player in 2013, GM John Hammond took a risk, flew to Greece, and with the 15th overall pick, found a gem.

Jabari Parker’s story is just the opposite. Fans lined the streets to see Parker play, as he took home 4 State-Championships as a Simeon Wolverine. As the next best player out of Chicago since #1 overall pick Derrick Rose, Parker was bound for greatness. But a foot injury his senior year in high school, and an underwhelming freshman year both personally and as a team at Duke, Parker “fell” to the #2 overall pick in the 2014 draft behind Kansas star Andrew Wiggins. To make matters worse, Parker suffered a similar fate as Rose, tearing his ACL during his rookie season. Fighting his way back in what is now technically his 3rd season, Parker has found his stride again.

Parker is averaging 20.5 ppg to go along with 5.8 rebounds. With his knee back to full strength, Parker slashes hard to the basket again, has his explosive first step again, and has even made his mark from behind the arc. Shooting just 15% from 3-point last season, his percentage has skyrocketed to 41.2 % this season. While the 6’8 Parker can play both the small forward and power forward position, his tandem and rapport with point guard and occasional forward partner Giannis Antetokounmpo, leaves many match ups to worry about for opposing teams.

Size and athleticism has always been what the NBA is about, but this Milwaukee combination is something the NBA has not seen before. The Bucks cashed in on back-to-back drafts and have created a formula that many NBA teams will begin to follow. The Bucks have proven that you can no longer look at potential players solely based on their stereotypical role in the NBA. If another scout saw Antetokounmpo at 6’11, he would be deemed a center, and therefore be drastically underutilized by whatever team acquired his services. However, his youth coaches and now the Bucks realize what they have in a 6’11, playmaking “point guard” taking the NBA by storm. With both players under the age of 25, Parker (21 years old) and Antetokounmpo (22 years old) have a bright and exciting future. This season has proven that proper scouting, development and unwavering commitment to a plan can build a team that can become a perennial contender. The Bucks are using two players that may have been type-cast 20 years ago, that are now taking the NBA and the city of Milwaukee to new heights and their athleticism and basketball smarts have changed the way we analyze the game.

Milwaukee never caved into pressures, continued to build and create a two-headed monster in Parker and Antetokounmpo that has many teams re-assessing the way they have tried to build their organizations over the past few seasons. The NBA has always been a league of athletic playmakers and the Bucks have struck gold in finding two players, from completely different backgrounds, that will continue to change the game for the better.

Works Cited:

Jenkins, Lee. “Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Most Intriguing Point Guard in NBA History.” Sports Illustrated 2017: Si.com. 3 Jan. 2017. Web. 17 Jan. 2017. <http://www.si.com/nba/2017/01/03/giannis-antetokounmpo-milwaukee-bucks-greek-freak-jason-kidd&gt;.

Note-A-Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks December 15, 2016: Bulls Forget Fundamentals, Fall to Bucks 108-97.

After an embarrassing loss against Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves last time out, the Bulls looked to turn the corner against their rivals up north, the Milwaukee Bucks. Unfortunately, the Bulls were no match for a team that is comprised of everything they want to be; young, long and athletic. From the opening tip, the size and athleticism was apparent for the Milwaukee Bucks as Chicago native Jabari Parker and the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo showed just how efficient and exciting the Bucks could be. A future invested in the up-tempo style and shot-creating playmakers appears to be a good route to develop Milwaukee into a contender. However, the Bulls continue to fall behind at addressing the need for true basketball players like the Bucks twosome, and continue to draft athletes, that have lately lacked the necessary basketball skill to go along with it.

  • The Bulls got off to a slow start in the 1st quarter that was emphasized by a missed alley-oop to Jimmy Butler, followed by the speed and length (a theme of the game) of Milwaukee with a Jabari Parker slam dunk to finish the sequence.
  • The Bulls came out very careless with the basketball and by the 9:19 mark in the 2nd quarter; they already had 9 turnovers, which converted into 14 Milwaukee points.  The lack of a true point guard continues to hurt as Rajon Rondo finished the night with 5 points, and 3 turnovers. In analyzing this team I have yet to figure out the Bulls plan in signing Rondo in the first place, as he continues to be a tough fit into their lineup and cannot jumpstart the offense when they need it most.
  • The Bucks missed a tremendous amount of easy lay-ups in the 1st half thanks to misses by big free agent-signing Greg Monroe but the Bulls could not take advantage and found themselves down 64-45 by halftime.
  • When the Bulls cross half court into the offensive zone this season, I have yet to see an actual offensive plan. While I usually only listen to Bulls’ analyst Stacey King for a great sound byte, he actually made a very valid point this evening. Tonight’s focus shifted to the play of Doug McDermott. King talked about how the Bulls continue to put McDermott in the game, yet they do not run plays to get him open. For a player like McDermott, consistency is key. If the Bulls know that he is more of a shooter vs. a shot-creator, then they need to create a package to emphasize that. The Bulls continue to get in the offensive zone and play four corners with the ball, hoping someone eventually gets open. There are rarely any clear cuts to the basket, set plays to utilize specialized players like McDermott, and they are left with a last second effort pick and roll and a forced shot.
  • The Bulls inability to take advantage of a player like McDermott is not unfamiliar. The similar lack of understanding of how to use Kyle Korver comes to mind. While Korver was always a reliable shooter, in  my opinion, he never truly lived up to the Bulls’ fans expectations. But with an offense that barely had any scorers, and lack of a game plan for a specialized catch and shoot player, he suffered. Since Korver left the Bulls after the 2012 season, his playing time increased and his 3-point percentage increased from .435 during his final year as a Bull to  .457 the next year, and .492 in 2014, one of his better years as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. He only averaged 2 more points per game as a Hawk, but his efficiency is what mattered. He was able to be utilized in a way the Bulls could never figure out. This same issue is plaguing the team now, and McDermott, who they traded up to acquire, is now a shell of the shooter he could be. He is never going to be an all-around two-way basketball player, and if the Bulls admit that and begin to understand how to implement him better into their offense, they will reap the benefits.
  • It seems as though there cannot be a recap I write without mentioning Nikola Mirotic. In a game in which big-bodied skill players were the biggest obstacles for the Bulls, the 6 foot 10 Mirotic never saw the floor. I think the Bulls are unfortunately starting to understand that Mirotic may not be the all-around player they thought they drafted. Just like McDermott, Mirotic is becoming categorized as a specialized player. If this is the reality, the Bulls then need to adapt to take full advantage of what he can offer. If he is supposed to be a lights-out shooter, then design plays for him to get open, like the plays that are needed for McDermott. If the Bulls do not address altering their approach and game plan revolving around these two players, their lack of production will continue. The Bulls have nothing to lose if they actively try to incorporate McDermott and Mirotic into their offense. The question becomes if they in fact know how to do that.
  • Again the 3-point percentage comparison was not a contest tonight as the Bucks shot 55 % from behind the arc, while the Bulls shot 26.3 % going 5-19. Early on in this game, Jabari Parker was 3-3 from 3-point land, the team was 7-8 and the Bulls could not find the basket.
  • The ghost of Tom Thibodeau’s past continued to haunt the Bulls tonight, as defense came at a premium. If the Bulls lose a game, an over-reaction is not needed when dissecting every play. However, when fundamentals are forgotten, as they were tonight, there is cause for concern. Defensive switching continued to be a problem tonight, as more often than not the Bulls were late getting around a screen, late covering their man, or double teamed when it was not necessary, leaving a skilled Bucks team to find the open man left alone for the easy basket. If the Bucks can move the ball successfully through a defense behind 39 year-old NBA lifer Jason Terry, your defense has a problem. The breakdowns were many in tonight’s matchup.
  • Because of the lack of defense, the Bucks were able to get a tremendous amount of shots off. While their biggest lead was 27, at around the 7:42 mark in the 3rd, the Bucks had 18 more shots than the Bulls. 18 more scoring opportunities. The lack of defensive points to how that staggering stat was even possible.
  • A rare bright spot again for the Bulls is the play of Cristiano Felicio. While the stats may not reflect it, his 7 points and 10 rebounds continue to impress as he is beginning to make himself into a player to look out for in the post.
  • An encouraging takeaway for Bucks fans is the two-headed monster of Jabari Parker (28 points) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 points). These players have tremendous skill, size and basketball awareness. Seeing them both healthy together was exciting, and especially after Parker’s injury it was great to see him make the consistent high-level scoring plays, that made him the #1 recruit out of Simeon and Duke. I never thought I would tell the Bulls to take a page out of the Bucks playbook, but they have found a formula in drafting incredible basketball talent in both Parker and Antetokounmpo.
  • Up Next: The Bulls will get a second chance against the Bucks as they finish the home and home tomorrow night at the UC at 7pm.

BULLet Points: Bulls handle Bucks, but is it too late?

The Bulls held on for a 102-98 victory over the Bucks on Sunday, but they still sit two games back of a playoff spot with only a handful to go. Their odds are long, but nothing is off the table yet. The Bulls just have to keep pushing and hope things fall their way. Let’s take a look at their win in Milwaukee.

  • Jimmy Butler followed up Saturday night’s massive triple double with another great performance. He notched 25 points, eight assists and five boards on 10/11 shooting, the first time a Bull had shot that well on 10+ shots since Scottie Pippen in 1990-91. Mentally, Jimmy looks to be all the way back from his knee issue after having some confidence issues in prior games.
  • While Butler was masterful against Detroit on Saturday, he dominated the ball; at one point late in the game, several possessions in a row were the same Butler-Pau Gasol two man game. Against Milwaukee, Jimmy still facilitated the offense but kept the ball moving much more. Everyone was able to get involved, and the offense looked much better. Granted, Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons defend a lot better than the Bucks.
  • Pau Gasol played pretty well for an old guy on a back-to-back. He scored 16 points to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. Pau attempted four three pointers (making one), but his stroke is pretty sound from deep. Makes you wonder how things might’ve been different if the team made a conscious effort to have him out there more often from the start.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo was the player of the game. Now the Bucks point guard (at nearly seven feet tall!), Giannis was absolutely unstoppable unless Jimmy Butler was on him. The Greek Freak tallied a career-high 34 points on 14/22 shooting to go along with nine assists. His only weakness offensively is shooting, so putting the ball in his hands forces teams to play him close or cede a long-legged drive to the bucket. That defensive attention has unleashed Chicago-product Jabari Parker, who many were starting to wonder about. Jabari had 24 and 11.
  • After no-showing against Detroit, Nikola Mirotic played a big role on Sunday with 19 points and six rebounds. It seems pretty clear that Mirotic is most effective when given the freedom to go to work offensively. Sure, he’s gonna have some awful shooting nights, but forcing him to the margins of the offense just doesn’t fit his game. Hopefully Fred Hoiberg is able to find Niko’s sweet spot next season like he has for Doug McDermott this year.
  • Justin Holiday continues to get regular rotation minutes, but still hasn’t broken through in a meaningful way. He’s 27, so it’s hard to imagine him developing much more in the future. Regardless, he’ll be cheap as hell next year, so *shrug*.
  • E’Twaun Moore was solid in 27 minutes, and he’s been a real find this season. To a lesser degree, Cristiano Felicio was also a good spot, as he looks worthy of playing at the end of an NBA rotation. He doesn’t offer much offensively, but he’s a natural defensive center.
  • Derrick Rose missed his second straight game but is set to return on Tuesday against Memphis. Khris Middleton sat out for Milwaukee, a nice break for the Bulls.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head to Memphis on Tuesday night.

BULLet Points: Pau Gasol’s triple double powers shorthanded Bulls

Jimmy Butler was a late scratch from Monday’s game against the Bucks, but the Bulls were able to overcome their missing star on the wing with smart ball movement and excellent shooting. While Butler’s re-injury is both disappointing and frustrating (another great moment for the Bulls’ training staff), the team is finally rounding into form.

  • Pau Gasol found a way to contribute to the win on a night where he couldn’t find his shot. The big Spaniard scored just 12 points on 4/14 shooting, but he blocked five shots, grabbed 17 rebounds and dished 13 assists to round out his second triple double since the All-Star break. Gasol did an excellent job finding cutters while working from the high post. Several times, too many Bucks defenders had their eyes on Pau and he made them pay for their mental mistakes.
  • Pau wasn’t the only generous Bull on the court. Derrick Rose and E’Twaun Moore had seven assists each, and the team overall assisted on a season-high 35 of their 39 field goals. The Bulls are currently 15th in the league in assist percentage, something to be expected with two ball dominant guards capable of creating for themselves. But with Butler unavailable, the Bulls utilized smart passing to cover up a talent deficit.
  • A lot of that smart passing led to wide open shots around the perimeter. Mike Dunleavy in particular cashed in on an uninspired defensive effort from the Bucks to close out at the three point line. Dunleavy scored 18 points on 7/9 shooting and 4/6 from three.
  • My favorite thing about Mike Dunleavy is the way he runs to his spot above the break in semi-transition. Sometimes he sprints there when the Bulls have numbers. But the best is when he sort of saunters up to the line after the lead ball handler has forced a switch on the fast break. The uncovered Dunleavy times his arrival to his spot perfectly, always catching and shooting the ball in perfect rhythm.
  • Derrick Rose carried the scoring load for the Bulls with Butler missing and Pau missing shots. Rose finished with 22 points on 9/18 shooting. Derrick knocked down a pair of three pointers and was effective attacking Milwaukee’s interior, especially when Greg Monroe was in the game. Rose was a team high +22 in his team-high 38 minutes.
  • Part of the reason Rose had to play so many minutes was because, in addition to the absence of Butler, Aaron Brooks left the game midway through with pain in his knee. Brooks has been mostly horrible this season, but the Bulls really missed having another option at point guard. Rose is not built to play that many minutes on a consistent basis, and if Brooks is going to miss time, this team is in trouble.
  • Having said that, E’Twaun Moore continues to impress in his increased role. The Boilermaker scored 16 points on 6/11 shooting. He dished the aforementioned seven dimes, and did not commit a single turnover in nearly 36 minutes on the court. Moore has stepped up for this team in a big way, and is in line to cash in during this crazy upcoming summer.
  • The Bucks are all kinds of weird and intriguing. Their size and versatility on the wing is frightening. Giannis Antetokounmpo acted as defacto point guard much of this game and wracked up 10 assists. Jabari Parker flashed some elite speed and athleticism for a power forward on several strong moves to the hoop. Khris Middleton is a dynamic offensive player, able to shoot, drive and dish. If this team ever finds a suitable point guard and center to compliment the core on the wing, everyone is in trouble.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head into San Antonio on Thursday for a matchup with Kawhi Leonard and the NBA’s second-best squad.

BULLet Points: Bulls continue to roll with win over Bucks

  • Don’t look now, but the Bulls have not lost since the day after Christmas. That’s five wins in a row, including tonight’s 117-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center. This run puts them at 21-12 and 2.5 games behind Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. This year’s team has felt much like one that is working to find it’s identity, and it seems like it’s coming down to a changing of the guard, so to speak. I would normally resist such a cliche, but it works in this case, as it is increasingly apparent that this is probably Jimmy Butler’s team. Our own Jacob Bikshorn wrote on this topic just a couple of days before Butler’s record setting 40 point second half on Sunday afternoon.
  • Butler continued this dominance against the Bucks, extending his streak to 41 straight games with a steal, as well as leading the team in scoring with 32 points. What was perhaps even more impressive though was the team-leading 10 assists. He had just two turnovers (Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol combined for nine). As the season moves toward its second half, I am convinced that the Bulls will rise and fall with Jimmy Butler. Not long ago, on a relatively rare off night for Butler, the bench picked him up, but generally speaking the Bulls need Butler to be the kind of player he has been the last two games particularly. Butler currently has a PER of 21.3. The only regular player who tops this is Gasol at 22, and no one else comes all that close.
  • Bobby Portis has worked in recent weeks to earn more and more minutes on the floor, and while tonight may not have been his strongest recent outing, he added eight points and eight rebounds. Portis has a PER of 17.1, which is third in team ranking, but it is worth mentioning that his total minutes are still much, much lower than a lot of other guys on the team. I do think that Portis needs to stay on the floor for at least 20 minutes a night when he’s not a starter, but with increased minutes, we may see some of these numbers come to earth a bit.
  • I was perhaps a little hard on Pau Gasol in my last game recap, so I feel like I should acknowledge the night he had as well. He and Taj Gibson looked good in the post early in the game, and Gasol put together just a completely solid night. His 10 defensive rebounds and five assists were the icing on top of 26 points. As I mentioned earlier, he did contribute for a number of the team’s turnovers, but his aggressiveness in the post and on the boards contributed to some of this, so it is not entirely a bad thing. I’m probably still not ready to trust Gasol to do this on a regular basis, so I want to see more of Portis on the floor as the season progresses.
  • The Bulls were perfect from the free throw line. Though my personal experience as a basketball player was quite limited (hey, I watched a lot of games in high school from the best seats in the house, if you know what I mean), one of the most basic axioms of my years of attempting to play the sport at least passably enough that I didn’t embarrass myself was that if you can draw fouls and then make your free throws, then that is an immense value added. The Bulls shot 20 free throws tonight and made all of them, and though the Bucks shot well, they had 14 chances at the line, and made just eight of those. That’s a 12 point difference, and if you look at the final score, you don’t have to think too carefully to see how much that matters in the game’s outcome. The team shoots well from the stripe as a whole, at just under 77%.
  • I was a big fan of Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker as he came into the league, but he’s not putting together a particularly strong season. In fact, he’s had some pretty rough nights, and tonight was probably one of his weaker outings. He was just 5/12 from the field and did not have a single assist. His +/- for the night was -21, which he has only topped once during the season, about a month ago against the Clippers. His NBA experience is so limited, however, that I don’t want to rush to any judgment about him based on just 55 career games thus far.
  • Coming up: the Bulls will be looking to win their sixth in a row against the Celtics on Thursday.