Jabari Parker wasted little time getting his feet wet in his new stomping grounds. Signed by the Boston Celtics on Friday, the former No. 2 overall pick logged 16 minutes in the C’s victory over the Warriors on Saturday night.
In a highly-contested bout, head coach Brad Stevens threw Parker into the fire and the 26-year-old responded, scoring 11 points and even finding himself on the court for the final two minutes of crunch time.
“We just told him to go out there and play as hard as he can everything else will fall in,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said of Parker following the game.
“We were definitely ecstatic with the way that he came out, not really knowing the system and just playing basketball, being a basketball player,” he added. “So, once he gets more involved into the plays and learning everything else will kind of mesh in well. But for his first time out there, he played very well, and we’re proud of him.”
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Stevens Lauds Parker for Playing to his Strengths
Parker was unequivocally brought to Beantown to add a scoring punch — so far, so good. His scoring output against the Warriors surpassed the total points he scored during the entirety of his disappointing Sacramento Kings tenure.
“Well, we went through the stretch at the start of the fourth quarter. We needed to score. He gave us some opportunities there,” Stevens said in response to Parker logging minutes down the stretch. “Both in the first half and in the second when he played on the baseline, he played to his strengths, (he) did a lot of good things.”
Scoring has never been much of a question when it comes to the former Duke Blue Devil. Even after a multitude of injuries, Parker has always been able to score in bunches. A career 14.8 points per game scorer, the Chicago native has averaged greater than 14.0 points with four different teams over his NBA career. Yet, for all the good he brings on the offensive end, there’s always been a tradeoff when it comes to Parker’s prowess — or rather lack thereof — on the defensive end.
Now in Boston, Stevens fully expects Parker to elevate his play defensively.
“He (will pick) up our defense as time goes on,” Stevens noted. “We got to figure out how to best play with him on both ends, but pretty good for his first night.”
Celtics Being ‘Patient’ With Parker
While he went out of his way to laud Parker’s playmaking ability and position flexibility, Stevens isn’t in any rush to get his newest bench player producing up to his former draft stature. The coach detailed that the team plans to be patient in terms of bringing Parker along.
“As you saw from the details that came out, this is a plan beyond this year,” Steven said of the forward who inked a two-year contract with the team. “We’re going to be patient in bringing him along.”
With that said, while the Celtics may have long-term aspirations for Parker, his offensive abilities can prove to have an immediate impact on a team that currently owns the second-worst scoring bench in all of basketball.