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Jabari Parker’s torn ACL a tough blow for upstart Bucks


Via Eurosport.com

Photo Credit: Eurosport.com

The Milwaukee Bucks won 15 games last season, the least amount in the NBA. The woeful season led to the Bucks getting the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and after the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins, the selection of Jabari Parker was a pretty easy one to make.

Through the first 24-plus games, Parker showed why he was the right choice for Milwaukee. The 19-year-old was coming on especially strong in December. In the first six games of the month, he averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 60.6 percent from the field. While the Bucks only went 2-4 in those games, they were the underdog in every game and covered the spread in four of them, according to VegasInsider.com.

Milwaukee was 12-12 straight up and 16-8 against the spread entering its 25th game of the season, a bout out west against the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks would win the game on a buzzer-beater by Khris Middleton to move to 13-12 straight up and a league-best 17-8 against the spread, but the victory was secondary to a knee injury suffered by Parker in the second half.

Parker’s left knee buckled on a drive to the basket, and he had to be carried off the floor by his teammates. While the initial diagnosis was simply a sprained knee, it was revealed Tuesday that the rookie would miss the rest of his first season with a torn ACL.

This is a rough blow for the upstart Bucks, who are currently the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. Although Milwaukee wasn’t a title contender and could have missed the playoffs even with Parker, losing a key piece of its rebuild during such a promising start is unfortunate.

Furthermore, this is just brutal for Parker himself. He was playing so well and was a top candidate for Rookie of the Year. His 12.3 points per game is second among rookies to only Wiggins, and his 5.5 rebounds per game is third among first-year players. Considering how well Parker was already playing in his first season at the ripe age of 19, one has to imagine he was on his way to stardom rather quickly.

Parker can certainly still become a star, but first he must face a long and arduous rehab. Perhaps the Chicago product can talk with fellow Simeon graduate Derrick Rose about the rigors of ACL recovery. It’s going to be a tough process for Parker, but hopefully he’ll be back and better than ever next season.

And although losing Parker is a serious blow, the Bucks still have a ton of young talent on the roster that could sneak them into the postseason in the dreadful East. Brandon Knight has really come into his own as a point guard, while Giannis Antetokounmpo is oozing with potential and Larry Sanders is a quality rim protector. The 23-year-old Middleton has also shown flashes of solid play and will likely be expected to take on a bigger role with Parker out.

Milwaukee visits Portland to play the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. The Bucks are a 9.5-point underdog according to most Vegas sports books.


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