This was expected, even after Duke’s early and unceremonious exit from the NCAA Tournament and despite all the rumors to the contrary.
Duke’s Jabari Parker will declare for the NBA draft, he said in an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated.
Ultimately, I boiled my decision down to two simple questions:
Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player?
Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court?
The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA.
He also writes that the other key factor was that another year in college shrinks his earning potential as a professional. For the guys at the top of the draft this is key — they are very likely to get big second contracts (and beyond) and if they get to them a year earlier they can earn more over the course of their career.
Parker spends the first part of the article talking about all the reasons it was hard for him to leave Duke, and he said he plans to graduate from the school while in the NBA.
Lately I haven’t slept much. Although my dream is to play in the NBA, I’ve gotten pretty attached to life at Duke and I don’t want to utter the word goodbye.
This is the right move for Parker, for the reasons he outlined above. It’s a business for him now.
Parker, 6’8” and can plan the three or four in the NBA, is likely a top three pick. He’s as high as No. 1 on some scout’s boards and there is no way he falls past No. 4. Most teams seem to have the Kansas duo of Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins higher, but we’ll see how the lottery shakes out the draft order before making predictions.
He’s also the freshman best poised to make an impact as a rookie — his offensive game is NBA ready and he can put up points in the league, PBT’s draft expert Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com and Rotoworld said.
“A highly skilled scorer for a freshman. He is comfortable in the post and on the perimeter, can attack of the dribble, and can the run the floor as well as most guards,” Isaacson told PBT. “As good as he is on offense, his defensive lapses can be that bad. Needs to learn a lot of the defensive basics, but still finds a way to be a good rebounder.”
We saw those defensive lapses when Duke lost to Mercer in the first round and Mike Krzyzewski had to bench Parker to get defense on the court.
But teams think they can work on and improve his defense. You can’t teach what he does on offense.