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I’m glad Jabari Parker is in a slump.
Before you jump down my throat and tell me I’m an awful fan, hear me out …
Jabari came in as a highly-touted freshman and hit us all like a ton of bricks. He could do everything – shoot, post up, rebound, dish out assists, lead fast breaks – everything. He has been a machine. Opposing teams have come into each game expecting him to have 20 points and ten rebounds. His highlights are mainstays on SportsCenter and DukeBluePlanet’s Top Five. He’s recreated classic Grant Hill dunks. He’s Superman.
But there are problems associated with having Superman on your team.
The first problem is that there are four other guys on the court and many more on the bench who need to improve in order for Duke to have a chance to make it to another Final Four.
The tendency in some of the early games has been for the team to sit back and watch The Jabari Show on offense, and then take it relatively easy on defense (and who could blame them? Superman couldn’t miss and the “Forget Playing D … We We Have J.P.” plan was working, right?). Jabari’s “slump” is reinforcing the idea that our beloved Blue Devils need to actually prevent other teams from scoring instead of just trying to outscore them, and it is also allowing some guys to find their openings in the offense.
Look at how Rasheed Sulaimon has been playing lately. And what about Quinn Cook and our three-point sniper Andre Dawkins? Heck, even Marshall Plumlee comes in and gives us some quality minutes nowadays. Who would have seen that coming? Nobody would have, had Jabari not shown us that he was human and needed some help from the rest of the team.
The second problem with having Superman on you team is that, if you’re not careful, you’ll forget that you also have Iron Man. In our case, that’s Rodney Hood. We can get into a long debate about how unfair the media is for focusing on freshman and forgetting about the contributions of upperclassmen, but that’s another post. What I can say is, if I was an NBA scout, Rodney Hood would be as high on my list of potential draft picks as Parker, Wiggins, and Randle. Look at his numbers:
- 18.5 points per game (only one less than Jabari)
- 52.9% FG percentage (higher than Jabari)
- 84.8% FT percentage (higher than Jabari)
- 47.0% 3-point percentage (higher than Jabari)
Those are crazy stats! Rodney Hood has been just as impactful as Jabari Parker, and his offensive fire power has saved us on more than one occasion. Maybe this little slump is just Hood’s time to shine.
All that being said, I’m sure Superman will cough up the kryptonite and be back to his usual high-scoring self sooner rather than later. Hopefully, the team as a whole will have fixed some of its deficiencies and can take us back to the promised land in March.