CHICAGO — Jabari Parker was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the second overall pick in this year’s draft, but instead of feeling some sense of entitlement given his level of talent and lofty position on the draft board, he’s well aware of how players who were similarly picked at two have fared over the years.
“There’s been a lot of second pick busts,” Parker said Saturday morning, at the grand opening of the redesigned Jordan space inside Nike Chicago. “I’m just trying not to be that bust. Everyday that I step on the court, I just remind myself that I have a long ways to go. If I want to be one of those guys in the first tier of the NBA, like a LeBron, like a Kobe, like a [Blake Griffin], then I have to have that mentality starting off from the ground, and work my way up.”
Parker knows his history.
There is an unusually high amount of players who could rightfully be labeled as being busts that were taken second overall. The list is long, and includes names like Darko Milicic, Michael Beasley, and perhaps most famously Sam Bowie, who the Blazers took second in the 1984 draft, with Michael Jordan’s name still on the board.
In recent years, the players picked second don’t appear like they’ll amount to much, either, though there is still time. Victor Oladipo, last year’s number two pick, seems just fine. But Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Derrick Williams, Evan Turner and Hasheem Thabeet all appear to be miles away from living up to that level of expectation.
Parker is entering the league with a rebuilding Bucks team, and playing his whole life at winning programs like Duke University and Simeon Career Academy high school, he hasn’t experienced much losing. He seems prepared to handle whatever his first season may bring, however, and said his brief professional experience at Summer League in Las Vegas has helped prepare him to meet that challenge.
“I definitely learned that winning isn’t guaranteed, especially in the Summer League,” Parker said. “So I just have to have that gratitude, and just be grateful for every win that I get. If I have that attitude, then we’ll bring some good things to Milwaukee, and hopefully bring those out into the playoffs if we get the chance.”