Chicago Bulls: Jabari Parker’s scoring capabilities pivotal to success

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 03: Jabari Parker #2 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball during a preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Fiserv Forum on October 3, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 03: Jabari Parker #2 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball during a preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Fiserv Forum on October 3, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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It’s no secret that the Chicago Bulls are among the worst teams in the league on defense. They, however, are expected to at least attempt to make up for it with the multitude of scorers available on the roster. Jabari Parker is one of those scorers and he needs to figure out his preseason scoring struggles sooner rather than later.

Jabari Parker was signed by the Chicago Bulls this past offseason to fill the much-needed gap at the small forward slot. Everyone knew that both Parker and Zach LaVine sharing the wing wouldn’t be the most effective defensively, however, the sheer combined offensive capabilities of the two seemed to at least partially offset that.

Unfortunately, LaVine and Bobby Portis seem to be the only consistent scoring threats thus far. Yes, it’s preseason. Key players aren’t getting their normal amount of minutes and they’re far from in the swing of things but the only way this Bulls team is going to be successful with minimal defense is high prowess on the offensive end.

I was initially skeptical about the Parker signing but started to slowly warm up to the idea throughout the past few months as he’s has proven throughout his relatively short career that he’s certainly capable of providing the aforementioned offensive prowess. However, thus far, he’s been completely off the mark offensively. While it’s pretty much guaranteed that he’ll improve at some point, this needs to happen a lot sooner than later.

Parker’s offensive capabilities

As most are already aware, Parker has suffered 2 injuries to his ACL which limited him to just 183 games over his 4 years with the Bucks. However, when in full stride, the 6’8″ forward proved to be among the elite when it comes to scoring.

Throughout his 51 games as the second option to Giannis Antetokounmpo during the 2016-17 season, Parker averaged an impressive 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game on 49.0 percent shooting from the field and an effective 36.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Furthermore, the 2017-18 season saw him retain a reserve role but efficient numbers as he averaged 12.6 points per contest on 48.2 percent shooting from the field and an improved 38.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Although he’s certainly not known for his shooting ability, he connected on 42.6 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s which accounted for 2 of his 2.6 attempts per contest that season.

When healthy and with the ball in his hands a good amount of the time, Parker is an effective scorer in all facets of the game as he can do virtually everything on the floor offensively. He’s also proven to be a versatile and strong rebounder as well as a solid ball handler, which is why his inability to consistently defend the opposition is often overlooked.

While he certainly has the capability, the Chicago Bulls aren’t getting the Jabari Parker they paid for in the offseason. That’s likely to change, but it needs to happen as soon as possible with the recent Lauri Markkanen injury.

Recent struggles

The very first game against the New Orleans Pelicans saw Parker play a fairly all-around game as he tallied 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in 25 minutes of play. He, however, could’ve had a much more effective game if he’d connected on more of his shots. He made just 5 of 14 total attempts from the field, a mere 35.7 percent. A rough game efficiency wise but overall a well-rounded performance and one us Bulls fans would expect to see from him for most of the season.

He followed up his first performance with a dismal 19 minutes against his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks. He managed to record just 2 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. In addition, he connected on just 1 of his 12 attempts from the field and misfired on all of his three-point attempts.

Most recently against the Charlotte Hornets, Parker struggled once again. He managed to contribute in multiple areas as he marked 9 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists but, once again, his offensive efficiency was well below expectations. With 27 minutes of playing time, Parker made just 3 of his 11 attempts and missed all 3 of his 3-pointers.

Collectively throughout the first 3 games of the preseason, his averages compute to a meager 8.6 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists per game on a startling 23.7 percent shooting from the field and 16.7 percent shooting from 3-point land.

Once again, it’s only preseason, and other key players have had rough games too but most, if not all, of them were able to bounce back. Zach LaVine, for example, started out hot with a 21 point effort while shooting an efficient 61.5 percent from the field in the first game.  In the second game, he drastically declined scoring just 8 points on 3 of 10 shooting from the field. He, however, managed to pick himself up in the most recent loss to the Hornets and marked 26 points on 60 percent shooting.

Parker is nowhere near a bad player, but he needs to capitalize on his opportunity in Chicago this season as a top 3 scoring option.

Contributions to the team

With Markkanen out for 6-8 weeks, Parker is playing his true position and is a second option scorer. LaVine has clearly taken the lead as the first option and is looking to continue to capitalize on his opportunity as he transitions to full minutes during the regular season.

Aside from Bobby Portis and Antonio Blakeney, the Bulls haven’t had any truly consistent scorers outside of the starting lineup and Kris Dunn is supposed to be facilitating. Parker needs to find his groove as soon as possible if the Bulls want a chance at winning over 30 games and I believe he will.

Remember, the Bulls retain a team option for the second year of his contract meaning Parker will have to start contributing soon. He’s got all the tools and the perfect opportunity to use those tools to be successful.

Next. Bulls: 3 takeaways from the loss to the Hornets. dark

The Bulls defense isn’t getting any better and their chemistry still needs time to build. Parker’s ability to contribute offensively is going to be pivotal for future success.