Less than 24 hours after the Boston Celtics bench allowed the Los Angeles Lakers to go on a 24-2 run over the final minutes of the fourth quarter, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge went out and almost certainly improved the unit with Jabari Parker.
We’re not going to act like the 26-year-old Parker, once thought to possess All-Star talent, is the same player he was when coming out of Duke. That’s obvious. If he was then he wouldn’t be playing for the sixth team in his six-year carer. He wouldn’t have been released by the Sacramento Kings — he averaged 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in seven minutes per game — after the NBA trade deadline. And Parker wouldn’t have been traded before that, either.
Injuries have played a major role in Parker’s career, and its hindered him from living up to expectations of a No. 2 overall pick. He has had multiple ACL surgeries, and in doing so his potential has been derailed.
But the 6-foot-8, 245-pound Parker still offers plenty of upside. Especially when you take into account the Celtics waived Wagner — 1.2 points in nine games in Boston — for his roster spot.
Parker has averaged 14.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in his career. He has shot 49% from the field and 32% from long range. His best season came in 2016-17 when he averaged 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in 51 contests.
Parkers holds career averages of 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Boston, of course, did add some bench depth with the trade for Evan Fournier at the deadline. Fournier has shown his potential with the group led by Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum perhaps best depicted as he scored 23 and 17 points in his most recent two games before landing in the league’s healthy and safety protocols.
No matter how the Celtics go about their lineup upon Fournier’s return, the bench received a boost with his addition. It should receive another one, while perhaps more minimal, with the signing of Parker. The Celtics need players who can create space for themselves and score baskets, and Parker has shown the ability to do that. Sometimes it even has looked effortless.
In addition to his injury history, Parker’s defensive buy-in could be a concern. He’s never been known as a specialist on that end of the floor.
So, while we’re not here to say Parker suddenly makes the Celtics, who have won seven of the last eight games, into an NBA Finals contender, it’s difficult to find a real downfall to Ainge’s low-risk signing.