A former No. 2 overall pick out of Duke is turning heads at Kings training camp ... and it’s not Marvin Bagley III.
Bagley has yet to speak to the media and hasn’t appeared on any of the team’s b-roll footage through the first few days or camp, but that’s a story for another day.
Jabari Parker, the second overall selection out of Duke in the 2014 NBA Draft, was a bit of an afterthought when the Kings were putting together their roster in the offseason.
After struggling with his conditioning when he came to Sacramento at the trade deadline last season and having another setback with coronavirus leading up to the NBA bubble over the summer, Parker has come into training camp in great shape and ready to compete.
“I have a lot to offer for any team that I’m on and it’s just being able to put myself out there,” Parker said. “Once I get out there, everything else is just curtains for me. If I get that opportunity, I’ve got to take the most out of it.”
Both De’Aaron Fox and Jahmi’us Ramsey confirmed that Parker was the stand out player on Day 1 of camp. On Day 2, it was more of the same for the power forward/center.
“I think he’s just flying around,” Richaun Holmes said. “He’s healthy, perfectly healthy. He’s got his mind right. He’s just in here flying around, doing what he does. He’s a great scorer, a great facilitator.”
Still just 25 years old, Parker chose to pick up his player option for $6.5 million and remain in Sacramento. According to Parker, it was his relationship with head coach Luke Walton that played a role in the decision to return.
He chose to stay where he was comfortable instead of hitting the free agent market and moving onto his sixth team in his seventh NBA season.
“Money is the least of my worries because I don't submit to money as the master I serve,” Parker said. “I just focus on good energies and being a good person and just trying to milk my talent as much as I can.”
There are no promises that Parker is in the rotation on opening night. He has an intriguing skill set, but the Kings have Bagley, Holmes, Nemanja Bjelica, Hassan Whiteside, Frank Kaminsky and even a few combo forwards that need minutes on the frontline.
“We have training camp to see how that all plays out, but everybody knows that they’ve got to be ready,” Walton said when asked about Parker. “A lot of times as a coach you want to play everybody, but that’s not what’s best. So between the guys that are playing at a high level, it will be my decision to pick who at least is getting those minutes to start the season and then we’ll adjust from there.”
With the coronavirus pandemic likely to wreak havoc for stretches during the season, every player needs to be ready to play. Parker showed up to camp in great shape, but it will be on him to continue to stay prepared if he doesn’t start the season in the rotation.
Parker can score at will in the post and he’s even made improvements as a rebounder and shot blocker. Whether that is enough to get through the crowd up front is anyone’s guess at this point.