Chicago Bulls: Jabari Parker not focused on defense

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The newest Chicago Bulls forward admitted in a radio interview on Wednesday that he’s more focused on scoring than improving his game on defense.

The Chicago Bulls recently signed free agent forward Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40 million deal with a team option in year two. Parker has dealt with injuries in his NBA career, but the Bulls are hopeful he can have a positive impact for the team next season. Parker revealed on Wednesday that he doesn’t think he needs to improve on defense.

In a radio interview with 670 The Score’s Bernstein and McKnight Show on Wednesday, Parker shared that he isn’t focused on improving his defense and doesn’t think that many NBA stars work on improving their defense either.

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"“I don’t know, I just stick to my strengths. Look at everybody in the league – they don’t pay players to play defense. You know, there’s only two people that historically play defense. You know, I’m not going to say that I won’t. But to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness."

It’s a shockingly honest answer from a guy who is definitely considered a scorer over being a great defender. While it may be true that most of the best players in the NBA aren’t focused on defense, it’s interesting to see a player come right out and say exactly that in a blunt way to the media.

Parker’s NBA career up until now has been pretty unlucky. He was drafted  by the Milwaukee Bucks at second overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. Parker had a promising future with the Bucks, but tore the ACL in his left knee in both the 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 seasons. He came into this offseason as a restricted free agent, but eventually signed with the Bulls as an unrestricted free agent after the Bucks pulled their qualifying offer to Parker.

Parker’s deal with the Bulls is really a one-year test to see how he can do next season on both sides of the ball. The team will have the option to pick up another year with Parker making another $20 million in the 2019-2020 season.

Looking at the advanced statistics on Parker’s defense, he is one of the worst defenders in the NBA at his position. He ranked 167th in defensive win shares last season among all NBA forwards. Parker played about 20 more games in the 2016-2017 season than he did last season, but ranked 98th in defensive win shares. With Bulls guard Zach LaVine also considered a defensive liability, it could be tough for coach Fred Hoiberg to have them both on the floor at the same time.

I believe the signing of Parker is an overall positive for the Bulls. It’s a low-risk move as the team can choose to move on quickly from Parker if he doesn’t perform well next season. However, his clear indifference to improving on defense is concerning. Hopefully Parker can stay healthy next season and become a great scorer for the Bulls. If he doesn’t, his time in a Bulls uniform could be a one-and-done situation.