Midwest, Duke ties could make Parker fit for Bucks
Jabari Parker could call on some nearby friends if the Bucks take the Duke forward with the second overall pick in the NBA draft.
He's from Chicago, barely a 90-minute drive south down Interstate 94. High school teammate Steve Taylor Jr. plays college ball in Milwaukee at Marquette, which just so happens to have former Blue Devils assistant Steve Wojciechowski as its new head coach.
Bucks general manager John Hammond, of course, isn't letting on exactly on what he's going to do Thursday night, though new team co-owner Marc Lasry has said it's essentially down to Parker or Kansas star Andrew Wiggins.
Count Wojciechowski as someone who thinks Parker would be a good fit in Milwaukee.
"He's a very down-to-earth, level-headed person. There (are) a lot of similarities between Milwaukee and Chicago," Wojciechowski said. "I think he would feel very comfortable."
Parker seems to think so. Asked in New York on Wednesday if he thought the Bucks would draft him, Parker replied "Yeah, I think so. I think that's pretty accurate."
Well, a lot does depend on what Cleveland does with the top pick, though Parker said that he "didn't really get answers" after a Cavaliers workout. He said he did have "some comfort level with (the Bucks) especially with them just telling me."
Wiggins, a 6-foot-8 guard, averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in his one season at Kansas. The 6-foot-8 Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds in his one season at Duke.
"And then he's as offensively gifted a player that I've been around at Duke," Wojciechowski told The Associated Press. "His instincts for scoring are unique, his size, his mobility his skill set — offensively, I see a guy who's going to be a 20-point-a-game scorer in the NBA for a long time."
This will be a pivotal pick for a franchise in transition. New York investment firm executives Lasry and Wesley Edens bought the team for $550 million this spring from former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.
The new ownership group will likely be seeking public financing to help build a new arena. There appears to be a shift in philosophy to a clear rebuilding process, with the new owners offering a three- to five-year window to build a championship contender.
"For us to get to that point, we have to have a draft like this. We have to have an opportunity to hopefully get a difference-maker," Hammond said Tuesday. "We're hoping that the second pick will be a piece that can be (part of) a championship-caliber team."
Either player would be one of the faces of the franchise from the start. Hammond thinks both players — as well as Dante Exum — have the ability to play multiple positions in the NBA.
Hammond might entertain trade talks about the team's three second-round selections, though indications are that the Bucks will stay put in the first.
"It would take something very special, and we're open to listening and discussing ideas," Hammond said. "Right now, we like 2, and we like being at 2."
Wiggins, Exum, Parker — the Bucks have studied up on all the top potential selections. But Parker could feel at home the most immediately.
On Wojciechowski's staff at Marquette is another former Duke player, forward Chris Carrawell. There's also a chance that Marquette could add former Blue Devils guard Tyler Thornton — who played with Parker last season — on to its coaching staff as a graduate assistant. Thornton is working a summer camp this week at Marquette and hopes to get admitted to graduate school.
"All the guys that he's been around a lot over the past year, anything that we can do to ease his transition here, we would be willing to do," Wojciechowski said.