Friday, June 27, 2014

Parker- 3 or 4

I'm home sick today so I will continue my comments on the Bucks' newest player. Parker played the 4-spot at Duke, but has been projected by most as a 3 in the NBA. This is typical as most players tend to shift down a spot from college to the pros unless they are a true center or a point guard. The same thing has been said about Wiggins being a 2 or 3 in the NBA. As players are coming out at 19 years old now, many are still developing and will start playing small and move into their natural position as their body matures and their game develops. The question about these guys is are they versatile, meaning they can play multiple positions effectively, or are the tweeners meaning they struggle no matter where you put them.

When it comes to determining a player's position in the NBA, there is a saying: you are what you can defend. One of the reasons I liked Wiggins over Parker was defense, and I feel Wiggins can play 2 or 3 because he can defend either position at the NBA level from day 1. In addition, with his athleticism he may be a guy who can guard 3 positions as his game develops. When you can guard multiple positions that allows your coach to play a lot of combinations around you, because you can always slide your better defender around. If you need more shooting, you slide him over to 3 and bring in a guard at 2. If you need more rebounding, you play him at 2 and let a bigger forward play the 3.

Parker should be able to score no matter where the Bucks play him. He was very effective at Duke playing in the post, and averaged 3 offensive rebounds per game. He was equally effective in transition and on the perimeter where he shot 36% from 3. We will see how he does against taller and more physical NBA defenders, but his all around offensive game leads one to think he will find a way to be effective. His body has led many to think he fits better as a 4 as he was listed at about 250lbs before the weight became a draft issue, and now he lists himself at 235. The fact he played the 4 at Duke and averaged 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game lends to the idea he can play the 4.

So what are the Bucks to do? Play him at the 3 where he can play on the perimeter more and take advantage of his shooting and play making skills, but may struggle against smaller quicker wings on defense? Do they play him at the 4 where he can take advantage of bigger players who have to respect his outside game but aren't as adept at guarding the perimeter, but let him take the physical pounding of guarding a 4. Think of who he will have to play. Would you rather see him matched up on Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony, or Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Zach Randolph?

I think the answer will depend mostly on the development of the Greek Freak. Much of the Bucks' future will depend on the development of Giannis, who Bucks' management seems to be in love with. Giannis as a young 18 year old playing in the NBA had the look of a natural 3 with his ball handling and perimeter skills. At 6'9" he had the length and wing span you love at that position in combination with elite athletic ability. He, like Wiggins, has the potential to defend multiple positions and that may be the answer. If Giannis can guard the 3 or 4, Parker can guard the other. Hammond said as much in his pre-draft interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Have you had discussions about how players' positions may change based on No. 2 pick? 
"We've talked about that. I think, once again, that these guys are multiple position guys helps that discussion. For that matter, I think Giannis is going to be a multiple position player some day. He came last September he was 6-9, 190 (lbs.) and today he's almost 6-11, 217 pounds. I think Giannis is a guy that is going to be able to play, at his size, he's going to be able to play some small forward and he's going to play some power forward some day."
So there it is. Parker will be playing the 3.5. In the end having guys that neatly fit into positions doesn't matter nearly as much as having guys that fit together. The Bucks hopefully have found 2 forwards that will fit together very well for a long time. Will they find enough other pieces to fit with them, and turn this into the type of winning team I remember watching growing up in the 80s? We'll see.

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