If he left Duke right now and said, ‘I’m leaving,’ he would be Utah’s best player. He would be a lot of teams’ best player. —Anonymous NBA assistant coach
Jabari Parker, with his LDS upbringing and basketball skills that are earning him national exposure, is already a well-known name in Utah.
If he finds himself in a Jazz jersey once he enters the NBA, would he be the team's greatest weapon?
One NBA assistant thinks so.
“That dude could play right now (in the NBA), like today,” an NBA assistant coach, who remained anonymous, told SNY.tv's Adam Zagoria.
“Like, if he left Duke right now and said, ‘I’m leaving,’ he would be Utah’s best player. He would be a lot of teams’ best player.”
This year's Jazz squad is led by Gordon Hayward, who is averaging 19.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, as well as two of the league's better big men in Derrick Favors (14 points, 10.6 rebounds) and Enes Kanter (15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds).
Parker is in his freshman year at Duke, where he chose to play after a standout prep career in Chicago. He considered BYU, among others, as a college destination before ultimately choosing the Blue Devils.
Through the first three games of his college career, Parker is averaging a team-leading 23.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He also has six assists, four steals and three blocked shots.
He scored more points in his first two games, with 49, than anybody in Duke's storied history.
In Duke's 94-83 loss to No. 5 Kansas last week, the forward had 27 points and nine rebounds; he recorded his first collegiate double-double Friday against Florida Atlantic with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Parker's shooting ability could really help the Jazz, who are 28th in the NBA in field goal percentage at 41.3 percent. Utah also ranks dead last in 3-point shooting, hitting just 27.6 percent of its shots beyond the arc.
Parker has hit 58.5 percent of his field goals thus far (24-of-41), and that percentage increases on 3-pointers, as he's hit 11-of-16 (68.8 percent).
The assistant also said he would take Parker ahead of fellow freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle in next year's NBA draft. Wiggins, at Kansas, and Randle, at Kentucky, are also expected to be top draft picks next season.
The Jazz are currently 1-10, the worst record in the league, sitting behind Sacramento (2-7), Washington (2-7), Milwaukee (2-7), Detroit (3-6), New York (3-6) and Brooklyn (3-6).
“Jabari Parker is one of the special players, not only in the country this year, but I think he’s one of the special players Mike Krzyzewski has ever had,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said before the season. “He’s the real thing. And he’s only scratching the surface of how good he’s going to be.”
Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @brandonljudd