Duke’s Jabari Parker declared for the NBA Draft today, using an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated to do so. While I suppose I can’t blame someone for writing in Sports Illustrated when given the chance (and Duke’s basketball banquet was last night, so I can’t blame him for not doing it there) it does seem self-serving to announce it this way. I don’t think Andrew Wiggins announcing he was leaving took any attention off the Kansas Seniors, for example. Not to mention I can’t imagine who is really all that concerned with Parker graduating from Duke with honors or writing a children’s book. Last I checked you didn’t need a degree to write a children’s book anyways.
Regardless of why he did it, Parker enters the conversation for the #1 pick in the draft with Wiggins and Joel Embiid. I will likely post a Big Board of sorts (please, hold your applause) in the coming weeks, but I do go back and forth on where to put Parker. Long term is more of a question, but no elite prospect going into the draft is more equipped to play an NBA game tomorrow than Parker is. He is a polished scorer, and while he struggled at times in ACC play (finishing with a sub 50% eFG and sub 30% from three) Parker can impact the game offensively immediately. Defensively is another story, as he frequently struggled on that end of the floor and even had to be pulled out of a couple games late because of his work on defense. I do think that playing out of position had a bit to do with that, and as he gets his body into NBA shape he should be able to defend on the perimeter a bit better without being taken advantage of as much inside.
This leaves Julius Randle as the only elite guy left to declare. While I (and most everyone) assumes he enters the NBA Draft, I can’t help wonder what the reaction from most media and college basketball fans will be if a Kentucky Freshman chooses to write an article in Sports Illustrated about it compared to the reaction after a Duke Freshman did.