On Wednesday's episode of the Dunc'd on Podcast, hosts Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux wento over the current state of the Bulls and discussed potential teams that could be interested in Jabari Parker.
Duncan and Leroux are two of the more reasonable basketball minds, and they quickly came to the conclusion that it would be tough to find a team that necessarily needs Parker. But they nonetheless went through a couple of teams that could possibly make good use of the 23-year old forward.
Duncan and Leroux weren’t that into the idea of Parker on Orlando but acknowledged that they certainly could use some help in the scoring department.
The Magic are currently 26th in the league in PPG (103.5) but are hovering around a .500 record due to their strong defense and slow pace of the play—the same style of play that has improved the Bulls D while torpedoing their offensive efficiency.
But the Magic do have skilled offensive players like DJ Augustin, Terrence Ross and Nikola Vucevic. All three players have managed to be efficient scorers this season, but only Vucevic and Ross have been able to do it while also shouldering a big offensive workload. Outside of Ross, Jonathon Simmons is the only other Magic bench player who carries a decent usage rate. Parker—for all of his shortcomings—offers more size and upside than Simmons.
On top of that, the Magic are one of the more pass-happy teams in the league, averaging just over 25 assists per game. It would be a solid team to compensate for Parker’s occasional penchant to develop tunnel vision when looking to score.
Parker’s terrible assist-to-turnover ratio wouldn’t hurt Orlando too much either, as they currently sit inside the top 10 in team AST/TO ratio.
The Hawks are very short on quality forwards. And that is exactly what Leroux stated when trying to picture Parker on the Hawks:
“[Atlanta] needs depth basically everywhere on the forward line, especially with Taurean Prince out.”
At full strength they place John Collins—a very solid young talent—at the four next to Dewayne Dedmon or Alex Len, with the latter being the much stronger tandem. But with Atlanta rebuilding at the moment, having functional lineups is much more important than having effective ones. And that is where Parker helps them.
According to Basketball-Reference play-by-play information, 41-year old Vince Carter is playing 61 percent of his minutes at power forward. So it is no shocker that he is posting one of the five worst individual defensive ratings on the team.
After Collins and Carter, rookie Omari Spellman and Taurean Prince play the most minutes at PF. Spellman is more of a center and Prince is good enough at guarding small forwards and wings to make it unnecessary for him to play the PF.
Slotting Parker into their rotation allows all the aforementioned players to return to their natural positions more often. At his natural PF position, Parker would be free to slide into a role as a (moderately) high usage player. Trae Young, Collins and Jeremy Lin could actually form quite a potent offensive combination with despite how bad that lineup would be.
But being bad at defense is another key to Parker’s possible success with Atlanta. Out of all the likely NBA lottery teams, perhaps only the Hawks, Knicks and Cavaliers had less expectations than the Bulls, who some (not many) pegged as a possible dark-horse No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
New Orleans Pelicans:
The Pelicans are in the same situation as the Bulls in terms of needing a quality small forward and struggling to attract star free agents. Parker doesn’t help with either of those issues and that is why Duncan suggested he could essentially be a nice depth piece for New Orleans, stating that Parker could help just by being on their roster as “a forward for when [Julius] Randle and [Nikola] Mirotic are inevitably hurt.
Though Pelicans general manager Dell Demps has had his fair share of misses, it is unlikely he would be looking to back up his oft-injured forwards with another injury-prone player. But if the New Orleans front office truly thinks Parker can improve from his current level of play, it would be worth it to part ways with Solomon Hill and salary filler for Parker. Whatever draft compensation Chicago wants would make or break this deal.
But with fellow Chicago-native Anthony Davis drawing tons of attention on his dives to the rim, it isn’t impossible to imagine a world in which Parker scores effectively as a pick-and-roll ball-handler with Jrue Holiday providing some floor spacing.
We’ll keep this one short. Nate Duncan had perhaps the best line of the episode when he stated flatly “they don't need more usage on this team.”
But while the Sixers certainly don’t need more player who want the ball in their hands, Duncan himself brought up the fact that they need more quality players in general. Parker has glaring holes in his game but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be good in a complementary role.
After the recently acquired Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler, the Sixers don’t have many players who can hold down the forward spots. Ben Simmons can obviously play in the frontcourt in a pinch, but the point of Simmons’ uniqueness is that you can keep him at the one and surround him with big, two-way guards and forwards.
So Parker would actually fill somewhat of a need for the Sixers. Again, for all of his shortcomings, I don’t think anyone is going to strongly argue that Mike Muscala is clearly a better backup option at power forward than Parker. Muscala fits better because he is a great 3-point shooter, whereas Parker would cramp the floor spacing in Philly. But Muscala is a terrible rebounder for his position, averaging 4 rebounds per game compared to Parker’s 6 boards a game, which actually leads the rebound-deficient Bulls.
And in a best case scenario where Parker is engaged on defense, he and Simmons could have some great success as a duo in transition.
They both possess the coveted “grab-and-go” ability that allows them to turn quick shots by an opponent into an easy bucket. Parker was around the 60th percentile as a transition scorer in his last year in Milwaukee (which is good) but has fallen off this year on an injury-riddled Bulls team.
A big reason for Parker’s transition offense falling off is his high turnover rate. But the hope would be that Simmons—who also turns the ball over a lot—Butler and Embiid would have the ball in their hands so much that Parker’s turnovers would decrease dramatically.
As far as the framework for this deal? Markelle Fultz, Muscala and Jonah Bolden would be enough to make the trade work. This trade wouldn’t really weaken the Sixers in any way on the court. And off the court, Parker’s expiring deal would be interesting for a Sixers team that will be trying to re-sign Butler while adding depth around the margins.