Former Milwaukee Bucks’ forward Jabari Parker accepted an offer to join the Chicago Bulls in the offseason. This left the Bucks with a scoring hole that needed to be replaced, and they’ve done a great job in filling it so far.
It was hardly in question once the Chicago Bulls sent Jabari Parker a contract offer that he was on his way out of Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Bucks could have matched it as Parker was a restricted free agent, however, the combination of Parker’s injury history and other upcoming free agency decisions forced the Bucks to part ways with Parker.
Parker came into the league with the hope that he would be a dominant offensive force. Injuries forced his development to take a backseat for multiple seasons in favor of recovery.
Having said that, some development has still been apparent. Parker has worked on his three-point shooting the last couple of years and by the time he left, he had a more well-rounded offensive game than he entered the league with. Parker’s offensive talents were even on full display on Friday night when he scored his season average in the first quarter of his first regular season return to Milwaukee.
That leaves a pressing question; who is picking up Jabari Parker’s scoring load this season? The simple answer would be everyone. So far this season, the Bucks are averaging a whopping 121.1 points per game as a team, which is a major increase from last year’s average of 106.5 points per game.
There are of course the usual suspects doing most of the scoring for Milwaukee: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Although, it’s worth noting that both of them are averaging about a point less per game than they did last year. Even Eric Bledsoe is averaging fewer points as opposed to last season Consequently, this means that the Bucks three best players are not picking up Parker’s scoring load.
The exciting part comes with the fact that the rest of the Bucks have been picking up that load as a collective. Firstly, all of the starting five are averaging double digits per game. This includes the three aforementioned players along with Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez.
Key offseason acquisitions have also been consistent while coming off the bench. Ersan Ilyasova, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo have been reliable in outplaying other teams’ bench units. This season they are averaging 7.8, 7.3, and 6.4 points per game respectively.
Those three could be considered as direct replacements for Jabari Parker, and they provide the Bucks with floor spacing and, as an added bonus to Parker, defense. The Bucks effectively swapped out one good player for three solid players. The bench has thrived because of it.
Tony Snell and John Henson round out the Bucks’ usual bench that has been superb, and both are putting up solid numbers off the bench. Snell is still bringing the same 3-and-D presence he had last season by shooting the three-ball at a 45 percent clip. Unexpectedly, Henson has also added a decent three-point shot to his arsenal this season.
This addition allows Henson to be of more use to the team now, and could possibly save his long-term career. Unfortunately, Henson will be out for the next couple of months but could still be valuable to the team in the playoffs. The duo of Christian Wood and Thon Maker are expected to pick up Henson’s duties.
This team effort to put up big numbers offensively helps to relieve the pressure on Antetokounmpo and Middleton, and in effect it tells the story of how a player like Parker has been replaced. While it is hard to replace someone of Parker’s offensive talent, it helps when the responsibility does not fall on just a couple of players.
Instead, the Bucks have focused on building a more talented supporting cast overall, and have implemented a much more prolific style of play under the guidance of coach Mike Budenholzer.
In line with Budenholzer’s former teams, in spite of an abundance of individual talent, the Bucks are very much focused on putting the team first following Parker’s departure. The early results suggest that’s been a wise move and there’s no reason to believe it won’t be sustainable.