With the draft upon us, we thought it might be good to take an extended look at Duke's Dynamic Duo, Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood.
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Parker came out of high school with a can't miss tag, and so far that seems appropriate.
At 6-9 and 240, Parker nonetheless spent the early part of his college career on the perimeter. For some reason, some people think he can't shoot outside. That's just stupid: Parker has a tremendous shot.
He also became a tremendous rebounder, consistently throwing up double-doubles - but only after his game was adjusted by the staff.
As you may recall, around the time ACC play started, Duke had interior problems and Parker hit the notorious freshman wall.
After he got comfortable inside, Parker showed he could also bang with just about anyone. He showed an ability to drive to the basket and on occasion pulled off some stunning blocks.
This was all done, mind you, as he was the key target of defenses.
Parker, clearly, was playing on a very high level. That's not to say there are no concerns.
NBA scouts have three basic concerns: body type (read: appears soft and heavy), that he's not overwhelmingly athletic and that his defense is lacking.
None of these are deal breakers.
Athleticism is often misunderstood. Who was more athletic? Larry Bird or Harold Miner?
Because of the nature of the game, high flyers are prized, but not nearly enough emphasis is put on hand-eye coordination or having an aptitude for the sport. No one would have thought John Stockton and Joe Dumars would end up Hall Of Famers when they started their careers.
It's true that Parker doesn't have elite athleticism like, say, Andrew Wiggins. Yet how do you measure his athleticism when scouts question his very desire? Ralph Sampson was more athletic than Patrick Ewing or Hakeem Olajuwon. Yet they surpassed him.
So don't buy run-jump as the sole indicator of athleticism. You have to factor in hand-eye, passion and an ability to grok the game. Go look up Pete Maravich and Ernie DiGregorio, watch how Kendall Marshall can intimidate a team from behind the half-court line. If you can play, you can play.
Accordingly, the other two criticisms are fixable. Diet and training will transform Parker from a soft freshman to a vicious pro player.
Honestly, defense is the most concerning criticism to us, and that should automatically improve with Parker's conditioning. Like rebounding, defense is a question of desire. As one skeptical scout said, if he couldn't do it for Coach K, when would you expect him to?
Athleticism aside, there is an answer to the other two questions: character.
No one has remotely criticized Parker's character.
He'll work hard for his employer, and we expect his body and defense to both improve. They might have already.