Parker, a 6’8 240-pound swingman former of the Duke Blue Devils, averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds in his only year down on Tobacco Road. While not as high-flying and as exciting as Andrew Wiggins, another possibility for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the recent foot injury of Joel Embiid, Parker in Blatt’s up-tempo, Princeton-based offense are a perfect fit for each other.
Blatt’s offense at Maccabi Tel Aviv consisted primarily of cutting to the rim, patient and effective ball movement, and players able to stretch—or leak out—for open shots, Thus, stretching out opposing defenses in making them defend the entire half court.
In addition, Blatt’s teams consistent of an up-tempo open floor-type of play, which Wiggins would thrive in Cleveland, but Parker would as well, thanks to his ability to post up, pass and run in transition.
One area that caught this writer’s attention about why a Blatt-Parker pairing is the over-reliance of point guard Kyrie Irving and his tenacity to over-dribble, which stagnated Cleveland’s half-court game, one too many times. Under Blatt, expect Cleveland to use more side-to-side ball movement, and the possibility of Parker utilizing his size down low to pass, shoot or drive to the rim.
One of Parker’s biggest strengths is his mid-to-long range shot, ability to step back and create space for an open shot and his turn-around in the post. Combine that with his ability to attack the rim and athleticism, and the Cavs have the perfect long-term solution at small forward capable of scoring 17 to 20 points a night.
Other areas that led this writer to feel that Parker is the perfect fit is the pending free-agency of Luol Deng, and Parker’s high basketball IQ, scoring ability and intangibles, it is clear the former McDonald’s National Player of the Year and first-time All-American at Duke is the best—and most NBA ready—prospect for the Wine and Gold.
While he also has some notable areas of improvement on defense and over-reliance on jumpers, that is something that be worked on under Blatt. But a tantalizing Duke 1-2 punch of Irving and Parker in Blatt’s new offense is something too good for Cleveland to pass up, and hopefully they will make the right decision in calling Parker’s name first Thursday night in Brooklyn.
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