It’s only been three games into the preseason so far but it already might be time to press the panic button on the Jabari Parker experiment. When Parker was signed, the plan was to play him down a position at the small forward spot, to insert him in the starting line up alongside Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen, plays power forward, which is Parker’s natural position. As training camp opened, Lauri suffered an unfortunate high-grade elbow strain, that could keep him out of action for two months, roughly the first 20 regular season games.
With Lauri being out, Jabari was slid to his natural power forward position, and he’s been awful at it. We all expected an uphill battle on the defensive end for Parker and the Bulls as a whole. But the defense has been worse than what some imagined. The Bulls have allowed 60 or more halftime points in all of their three preseason games. Parker has looked entirely lost on D and has been continuously exploited by the opposing teams in the pick and roll.
But again, the defense was expected to be kind of horrible, as many agreed that the Bulls would simply have to outscore their opponents to win games. A great offense beats a good defense any day right? The Bulls have the players, to produce offensively. Zach Lavine has looked terrific, as he seems completely recovered from his ACL tear, and looks every bit of as explosive as he did before the injury. Bobby Portis has provided consistent scoring off the bench, with his crazy eyes set on a 6th Man of the Year award. Markkanen will no doubt put up numbers once he returns.
While Parker had never been held in high regards for his defense, he has been seen as somebody who can get buckets. However, Parker has struggled tremendously on offense. Through the three games the Bulls have played, he’s shot 23.7 % from the field and only 16.7% from deep. Even though it’s only preseason, his poor shooting and overall conditioning is cause for concern. To be fair Parker is coming off of his own ACL tear(which is the 2nd time, he’s suffered that injury) realistically a player doesn’t really return to form after suffering a torn ACL, until their 2nd season after recovering.
So his early struggles, really shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s always a chance that his offense could pick up as the season progresses. The problem for Parker is this is the only season his contract guarantees him to play for his hometown team. If Parker can’t get things going, and the Bulls end up with another lottery pick, it’s not hard to imagine Parker playing somewhere else other than Chicago next season.
We’ll see if Parker can rebound from his offense struggles tonight, as the Bulls host the Indiana Pacers. Hoiberg will try a line up change tonight going with Wendall Carter Jr. over Robin Lopez and Bobby Portis in place of Parker. This change could purely be to get a look at a couple different line ups and fits, or as a way to motivate Parker.
Hopefully Parker can start to get things rolling tonight. Or he just might be forced to run away from home, at seasons end.