We'd been waiting for Jabari Parker's breakout game of the regular season. Friday night in Detroit we got it.
While Parker has had his share of good starts, what differentiated Friday night was his ability to maintain his aggressiveness and avoid the sort of impatient jump-shooting that made his first five games so inefficient. Parker twice got loose in the first quarter on simple side pick-and-rolls with Brandon Knight, the first resulting in a driving slam and the second a near and-one. He almost crammed home another slam after taking Caron Butler from the left post (so close!), but again had to settle for free throws. Two more mid-range jumpers and a slam off a nice feed from Larry Sanders and Parker had his first 10-point quarter of his career, though he would have to settle for the same at halftime after only a token appearance near the end of the half.
Parker avoided a letdown in the second half by staying aggressive in transition, dribbling the length of the court before setting up Sanders for a dunk and then making a similar burst to set up a nice one-two with Kendall Marshall. Parker finished that possession with a flush along the right baseline, in addition to another impressive lefty finish in transition and a late-game steal and slam that brought the Bucks within two with a minute remaining. His only field goal from a half court set in the second half again came from the left, as he sized up Josh Smith, drove left and finished with a beautiful lefty slam along the baseline. For all of Parker's inconsistency over the first week of the season, his combination of size, skill and athleticism continues to impress and offer reason to expect big things going forward. Did we mention he's fifth in the entire league in dunks right now (11)?
Naturally there were areas left for improvement. A bad pass after picking up his dribble in the final minute short-circuited the Bucks' comeback aspirations, one of four turnovers Parker had in the game. He still has a hard time holding post position against bigger players, but so do most players. And while he broke a two game drought from the foul line, he still hasn't re-discovered the free throw stroke we know he has.