Ken Burger of CBSSports.com has reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers are leaning toward making Jabari Parker the first pick in Thursday’s draft. This is assuming that the Cavs are scared off of Joel Embiid due to his new foot injury. Foot injuries and big men do not mix, so Embiid will likely fall. No one knows how far.
If Cleveland does take Parker, then they will pair him with former Duke one-and-done alumnus Kyrie Irving. That means that of the potentially eight players from the Big Four (North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Duke) that have been taken No. 1, the Cavs will have two at the same time. If they sign Elton Brand in free agency (possible but not likely), then they could have three. Also currently active is Tim Duncan.
What do these past No.1s say about Parker’s potential success in the league? Besides Irving, Brand, and Duncan that group includes Art Heyman, David Thompson, James Worthy, and Brad Daugherty. It’s hard to think of better company to keep. Thompson and Worthy are Hall of Famers, while Tim Duncan is a first ballot guy whenever he becomes eligible. Daugherty, Brand, and Irving have all appeared on All-Star teams.
Parker is a small forward at heart, but will likely serve some time at the big forward in small lineups.
Each of his predecessors have a different story to tell, though some will be more relevant than others. Looking at Parker’s body and skill set, it would seem that he would learn the most from studying the game of James Worthy.
The things Parker will have to do for the Cavs would not be dissimilar to what Worthy did for the Lakers. Irving and Parker have the potential to become a lethal duo even if Kyrie is more Isiah Thomas than he is Magic Johnson.
Jabari Parker, in the end, will have to be Jabari Parker. He won’t be any of those other guys for better or worse. If the past is any indication, being the #1 pick from a Big Four school is a great way to start.