Parker adjusting quickly as Bucks prep for camp
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker is learning quickly about how to ingratiate himself to his new fans.
The second overall pick in the draft welcomes the responsibility that comes with being a cornerstone of a franchise in transition. He wants to stay in Milwaukee, which has had a reputation as an NBA outpost.
He is even offering unsolicited praise for the Green Bay Packers, even if they’ve just handed Parker’s hometown team, the Chicago Bears, a humbling loss.
“I give credit where credit is due. Aaron Rodgers tore us apart into little pieces,” Parker lamented Monday at Bucks media day.
Sounds like the kid will be just fine living in Wisconsin.
The outlook is pretty good on the floor, too, judging by his one-and-done season at Duke. But it might take a while for a young team with a new coach, Jason Kidd, to make waves in the NBA.
Really, the Bucks can’t be much worse after a franchise-worst 15-67 record last year.
“The question is, ‘Where are we two or three years from now?’ It isn’t where we are today,” said co-owner Marc Lasry, who bought the team with Wesley Edens in the spring from former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.
“When you’re rebuilding — as long as we’re progressing — I think you’re going to find we’re going to keep demanding more and more,” Lasry said.
But that’s a ways away, it seems. The first day of camp on Tuesday is about getting acclimated to Kidd, who came to Milwaukee following one year leading the Brooklyn Nets.
Defense will be the focus for the first few sessions of camp, which includes a couple of two-a-days.
“This is the first day of school,” Kidd said as players went through photo shoots and interviews in other corners of the practice gym.
He may be teaching more than he was accustomed to with the Nets, who had an older roster.
The Bucks are building for the future with a nucleus that includes Parker and fellow forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, both 19. Milwaukee guard Brandon Knight, the team’s leading returning scorer at 17.9 points per game in his third year in the league, is just 22.
Asked for a rebuilding timetable, Kidd said that “analytical, they say it’s 4.3 years.”
But that is not the estimate he is following.
“We’re going to take it one day at a time. There is no expectation for us to win a championship, but for us the expectation is for us to get better each time we take the floor,” Kidd said.
Parker seems prepared for the long haul, at least mentally. He knows the losses are coming, and he’s determined to learn from them.
A little fidgety to start in front of a microphone, Parker nevertheless spoke in a calm and determined demeanor as if he had been in the league for years.
He acknowledged he was nervous about the grind of an 82-game NBA season, which is far longer than any season he has played.
Parker spoke proudly about how he has heard others compare his game to Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce, two jump-shooting NBA veterans.
“I do model my game after them. Coming to play against them is going to be interesting. There (are) certain moves that I want to pull off that I took from them, and see what they say about it,” Parker said.
He seems willing to accept the responsibility of leadership that comes with being a high draft pick, though he stresses that “it starts out with not being bigger than the team.”
And so begins the delicate process that any rebuilding franchise must undergo with a potential star in the making — building up the rookie to a success-starved fan base, while being careful not to apply so much pressure that it may hinder his development.
“Again, we’re not putting a whole load on him offensively or defensively to save this franchise,” Kidd said about Parker. “It takes a team to win, and he can also make his teammates better.”
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