Magic fans can agree that there is some work to be done before this team is a contender to be taken seriously. I know that I am excited to see what Magic GM Rob Hennigan has in store for the team. There may be a trade before the deadline or a free agent signing during the offseason, but a huge part of the discussion has been on what Orlando will do in the 2014 NBA Draft. Orlando will more than likely be a lottery team with quite a few ping pong balls already in their name and this draft has been lauded as one of the best we have seen in a long time, maybe ever. Andrew Wiggins started the year as the consensus favorite to be the number one pick. Now Dante Exum has officially declared for the draft & Marcus Smart was in the Magic crosshairs last season, but did not elect to enter the draft. Freshman factory Kentucky is making a favorable case for Julius Randle, but I think the Magic would be making a huge mistake if they didn’t take a hard look at hybrid forward Jabari Parker out of the University of Duke.
Parker is originally from Chicago. He attended the same high school as Derrick Rose and Nick Anderson, Simeon, where he won 4 straight state titles. From everything I have read and heard he seems to come from a solid foundation with a supportive and protective family. Obviously strong upbringing doesn’t always produce strong character and leadership, but it certainly doesn’t lead me to believe he would be in a hotel lobby at 4 A.M. throwing a keyboard (looking at you, Glen). Parker was also recognized as the 2013 National Player of the Year by McDonald’s and various scouting websites and was the first Illinois Mr. Basketball not to be a senior.
After the Magic weren’t able to get Marcus Smart, they selected Victor Oladipo with the hopes that he would be able to eventually move him over to the point. It is hard to tell whether Jacque Vaughn considers this experiment to be successful thus far, considering that Oladipo is a rookie still getting used to the NBA curve. If the Magic did want to draft a PG, I would say that Dante Exum would be the better choice to avoid locking the Magic into an undersized starting backcourt. Personally, I think Exum gives of a Penny Hardaway kind of vibe, but I don’t think that drafting a PG will meet as many team needs as drafting Parker would. The Magic get out-rebounded frequently on the offensive end, Jabari Parker currently holds Duke’s school record for offensive rebounds in a single game, about halfway through his freshman year.
Parker’s athleticism is something to behold. If you have watched any film on him, you will see countless highlights of him grabbing a rebound at the defensive end of the floor, taking it coast to coast, and scoring with authority at the other end. A transition sequence involving Oladipo and Parker would be near unstoppable. When given a size advantage, Parker knows how to take advantage with his back to the basket or rising up to take the jumper. His ball handling for his size is incredible. He can take the ball both right and left and has the ability to finish a number of ways. Between Parker and Wiggins, I’d say that Parker looks more ready to step onto an NBA team and make an immediate difference. He isn’t the best defensively, but has the tools physically to be dominant with some coaching. The NBA is where most players improve their defensive game anyway.
Jabari Parker would be an answer to more of Orlando’s questions than the other prospects and I think that Parker would get them where they want to be faster than other prospects as well. I know that I when the time comes I will more than likely be rooting for the number one overall pick and after that, I will be rooting for Rob Hennigan to take Jabari Parker.