On Friday night, the Boston Celtics finally made their big post-trade deadline move. After whiffing on Andre Drummond and the since-retired LaMarcus Aldridge, GM Danny Ainge found his frontcourt depth piece in former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker.
Parker will reportedly sign a two-year contract with the Celtics; the second year likely comes with only a partial guarantee.
To make room for the 26-year-old on their roster, the Celtics were forced to part with Moe Wagner. It was a quick turnaround for the big man, who had been acquired by Boston just over three weeks prior.
However, Parker brings something to the table that Wagner does not and that the Celtics’ second unit is in dire need of. Namely, big-time scoring chops.
Still, Parker has failed to live up to the superstar potential many had seen in him ahead of the 2014 NBA Draft. Even at his best, there were aspects of his game that didn’t lend themselves to being a building-block player. And a slew of injuries have only served to slow him down since then.
Consequently, he appeared in only three games for the Sacramento Kings this season before the two sides parted ways.
As such, the reaction to his signing has hit varying points on the spectrum — from extreme optimism to, “I don’t get it.”
Hoops Pundits React to Celtics’ Shock Signing
For his part, Yahoo’s Keith Smith noted that, even as he may be the last remaining resident on “Jabari Parker Island,” the forward’s sudden move to the Celtics was a shocker for him. That said, Smith believes that it was a “no-risk” move for Boston and that the team didn’t need Wagner as a fifth big because “Tacko [Fall] can fill that role.”
In his write-up on the signing for CelticsBlog, Smith pointed to a February game in which Parker scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting in limited action as evidence that his scoring ability is still intact. The former Duke standout scored in a variety of ways during his 16 minutes on the floor.
Boston.com’s Tom Westerholm joked that fans could now rest easy because Luke Kornet’s roster spot is safe. Although the tweet was made in jest, Kornet has played well in Boston, hitting 37 percent of his triples and putting up 4.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per contest in limited action.
NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer made a similar crack, calling Parker and Kornet “Bulls legends.”
Finally, Boston Sports Journal’s John Karalis apparently wasn’t a fan of the signing. He seemingly couldn’t wrap his head around inking Parker on even a conceptual level.
What Parker Brings to the Table (and What He Doesn’t)
In some ways, Parker’s game is out of touch with the modern NBA. He has never been a consistent defender, and while he has a number of offensive tricks up his sleeve, there have been issues there as well.
First and foremost, Parker hasn’t shown a great ability to stretch the floor since his early days with the Milwaukee Bucks. Over his career, he has connected on 32 percent of his triples; last season, that number was just 26.9 percent.
He has also relied pretty heavily on mid-range offense to produce points, taking 40.7 percent of his shots from three feet away from the hoop out to the three-point line.
After two ACL tears, he has also lost some explosiveness.
On the other hand, Parker continues to be very adept at generating his own offense, a skill that had some people comparing him to Carmelo Anthony coming out of Duke. Even after the injuries, he has a solid first step and an innate ability to get to the basket and finish.
Throughout his career, he has always flirted with or been over the 70-percent mark in terms of making shots within three feet of the tin. Clearly, he’s not a lifetime 14.8 PPG scorer by accident. His three-point shortfall notwithstanding, Parker is a versatile scorer who is always on the hunt for buckets.
For a Celtics team needing more offensive potency behind its big guns, he may have a lot to offer as a depth piece.
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