Jabari Parker is known for many things, but defense isn’t one of them. And in an interview on the Bernstein and McKnight Show on 670 The Score on Wednesday, he didn’t seem mark his defense as an area of improvement this summer. Instead, Parker stuck to his guns, acknowledging his scoring ability as his best ability and calling card for next season.
The newest Bulls forward was asked straight-up if he could be as good a defender one day as he is a scorer. The beginning of his answer was, “Well, I don’t know.”
“Well, I don’t know I just stick to my strengths,” Parker said. “Look at everybody in the league. They don’t pay players to play defense. There’s only two players, historically, who play defense. I’m not gonna say that I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness. I’ve scored 30s and 20s off of guys who say they try to play defense.”
Parker was then asked about being someone who can switch as a defender from one player onto another.
“Well, if you know the game, you know that everyone’s a pro, right?” he said. “And you know that certain guys have a (scoring) average, and no matter what you do, they still get that average. They pay people to score the ball, and I would hope that somebody scores the ball on me if they paid them that much. So, I’m not saying that’s a cop out or nothing, but it’s the NBA. We’re professionals, everybody scores. It’s just a matter of limiting them as much as you can and trying to contain them.
At least he’s being transparent, right? The questions about defense start at the 2:25 mark of the interview. Please do yourself a favor and go listen to it here.
Parker recently signed a two-year, $40 million contract with Chicago with a team option in Year 2, but the Bulls know they got him for a scoring punch, whether they start him or bring him off the bench. He ranked 79th out of 84 NBA power forwards last season with a defensive real plus-minus of -1.7. The only players behind him were Zach Randolph, Ryan Anderson, Frank Kaminsky, Bobby Portis and T.J. Leaf.
His Bulls teammate, Zach LaVine, also ranked pretty low on the same front — 84th out of 97 point guards. Chicago isn’t positioning itself to be the best defensive team this season, but hey, like Parker says, “they don’t pay players to play defense.”