Chicago Bulls: Could Jabari Parker’s defense become a noticeable issue?

Chicago Bulls Jabari Parker (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls Jabari Parker (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After five preseason games its become more than evident that Jabari Parker is a liability on the defensive end. Could this create more problems for the Chicago Bulls in the near future as the regular season premiers shortly? 

We all knew before the Chicago Bulls signed Jabari Parker back in mid-July that one of the biggest holes in his game was his lack of effort on defense. After five preseason games, it’s been extremely challenging for Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to hide Jabari’s defensive blemishes.

Looking at some of Parkers advanced splits, he averages 8.0 opponent second-chance points and 25.2 opponent points in the paint per game, which are both higher than any Bulls player on the roster.

Jabari Parker has looked pitiful on defense, to say the least, this preseason. There have been multiple plays where he has been seen trotting back extremely late on defense in transition, losing his man on screens, giving up open baskets in the paint from pick and rolls, giving up backdoor cut baskets, and the list goes on.

After five exhibition matchups, Jabari has only been able to muster up 1 steal and 2 blocks.

Parker’s defense literally looks non-existent in some plays. Sometimes in plays, the way Parker moves to guard defenders makes you wonder if there are cinderblocks attached to his calves.

Along with his effort not being quite there, it seems like his defensive IQ is not all the way there either. Ultimately, this is a bad combination destined for failure if not fixed.

Jabari’s defensive issues will make it hard for the Bulls to compete every night. He will have to offset his defensive with excellent offense or he might hurt the Bulls chances of winning games.

At least Jabari has his offense to fall back on, right? Well, that has not been the case this preseason. He has had a very tough time finding his shot in the first four preseason games and looked very frustrated with himself.

His poor defense might have caused him to lose his motivation on offense and has also caused the Bulls to fall behind in the score very early in three of their five preseason games.

Jabari only had one good game on offense this preseason coming against the Nuggets, scoring 19 points, where the Bulls as a team still struggled offensively.

Jabari was even taken out of the starting lineup for two of the Bulls five preseason games and it might be questionable if he will start the first game of the season.

When Parker was asked about his defense after the third preseason game his response dwelled mainly on offense:

"“It’s all the same basically. It’s just a matter of like trying to hit them back with a good offense in return,” Parker said via 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund. “That’s what I feel like. Because we go in a lot of slumps too, and we have some good looks. It doesn’t help that we don’t make baskets. But we can’t let that allow to dictate our defensive energy too.”"

Jabari played lackluster basketball in the preseason

Despite Parker’s mediocre preseason play, its a marathon, not a sprint. Jabari is focused more on the long term.

"“I knew it was going to take some time,” Parker said via Chicago Sun-Times Joe Cowley. “It’s a new environment for me and other people, too. I’m not looking at it like months; I’m trying to build years here. It’s going to take some time. Every team in the beginning is going to take some bumps and bruises to get to where they are.”"

Unfortunately, Jabari Parker’s contract is structured to where only one year is promised and the second year is a team option, so he may have to get things together rather quickly.

The good thing for Jabari is that no one is expecting him to be a great defender. Jabari was granted a 2 year $40 million deal, not because he was a good defender, but because he is a great scorer. He even admitted that.

All Bulls fans want from Parker on defense is to not give up wide open baskets, and at least close out hard and get a hand up on shooters.

If Jabari proves and solidifies that he can be the scorer that Bulls GMs and fans expect him to be, I’m sure the slander on his defense will fade but because Parker has struggled on offense it has brought more obvious attention to his defense.

Jabari’s deflated efforts on defense combined with the Bulls punctured defense have seemed to prove the critics right who have already questioned how he would fit in the first place.

If Jabari put half the effort he put in rebounding into defense he would be solid overall.

Let’s give Parker and the Bulls the benefit of the doubt, its only preseason. The preseason is the time for players and teams to make mistakes. We all hope that the mistakes made by Parker are only growing pains from adjusting to a new team, however, Parker has developed a reputation of being a lousy defender. We can only hope that he finds some defensive inspiration or Fred Hoiberg can find a better way to hide Parker on defense.

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Also, keep in mind, the Bulls are trying a lot of new things and are still one of the youngest teams in the NBA with the average age of their roster being 24. Plus losing Lauri Markkanen this preseason did not help much either.

Bulls fans are hoping to see if Hoiberg can ignite more energy on defense when the regular season begins.

The Bulls open up the season on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers.