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Former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker works for the Utah Jazz

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By the end of the short-lived and unfortunate Ty Corbin era, the Utah Jazz’s on-court product had receded enough for the team to land a rare lottery pick, No. 5 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.

even picking up that high, however, didn’t bring them close enough to land Jabari Parker, a supernaturally talented freshman forward from Duke known for his effortless scoring and intelligent court vision, who ended up being selected second in the overall for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Eight years later, with the 2022 draft just a week and a half away, both the Jazz and Parker are in very different places than they were then.

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The team has made the playoffs six straight seasons, and now it’s looking anywhere for talent upgrades to help the roster take the next step. And parker? Well, let’s just say he’s eminently affordable these days. In fact, the now 27-year-old is among the 20 players invited by the team to participate in its final two-day free agent minicamp, which will take place on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

When the Jazz held a similar session involving 18 players on May 31 and June 1, Jazz vice president of pro personnel/Salt Lake City Stars general manager Bart Taylor said the goal was simply to “find guys at the bottom of the list who can contribute.”

Asked Monday about this latest group, and what the team wanted to see from players like Parker, he noted that the 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward is someone Jazz CEO Danny Ainge is familiar with. . since Ainge brought Parker in to play for the Celtics for a while, but otherwise the general principle is the same.

“It’s similar, really, to anyone else we want to see, to be honest. For someone like him, he’s more, he’s fit, he interacts with him, he knows him better,” Taylor said. “Obviously Danny knows him well, they had him in Boston when he was there. But getting the rest of our staff and other people who know him a little bit to see him up close, see what he can do on the floor and see how he plays with this group of guys that we have. You know, it’s really as simple as that, to be honest.”

Other participants in this minicamp include Joel Ayayi, Frank Bartley, Trae Bell-Haynes, Vitto Brown, Bruno Caboclo, DJ Funderburk, Langston Galloway, Caleb Homesley, Jay Huff, Ade Murkey, James Palmer, Reggie Perry, Isaiah Pineiro, Grant Riller, Justin Robinson, Aamir Simms, Macio Teague, Sindarius Thornwell and Denzel Valentine (who briefly joined the Jazz last season on a 10-day contract because their roster was decimated by a COVID-19 outbreak).

Parker has long intrigued basketball fans in Utah because of the hope that the Chicago-born McDonald’s All-American will end up playing collegiately at BYU because he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Last days. That didn’t happen, of course, but simply being an LDS professional athlete has kept his profile relatively high in hive status.

Regardless, how did a guy who once drew comparisons to Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce end up here?

After all, while a couple of players in that class of 2014 have risen to stardom (Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid), some have made it to the occasional All-Star level (Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle), and many others They’ve carved out big roles for themselves (Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Jordan Clarkson, Jusuf Nurkic, Spencer Dinwiddie, TJ Warren, Clint Capela, etc.), Parker is just trying to prove that he still deserves a place in the league.

Well, first of all, the Draft is never a sure thing, as evidenced by the Jazz using that No. 5 pick on Dante Exum, then in December 2019 sending Exum and two second-round picks to Cleveland in exchange for Clarkson. . the 46th overall pick in that 2014 draft.

Still, in Parker’s case, it goes a little further.

After earning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in October and November 2014, Parker tore the ACL in his left knee on Dec. 15. Two years later, in his third season, in the midst of a campaign in which he was averaging 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 36.5% from 3-point range while forming a tantalizing 1-2 young slam with Giannis Antetokounmpo … he broke the left anterior cruciate ligament again.

Since then, Parker has also had some shoulder problems…and some back problems. Starting in the 2018-19 season, he jumped from the Bulls to the Wizards to the Hawks to the Kings to the Celtics. He averaged just 4.4 points per game in 12 games played this past regular season, and just 5.5 points in 13 games played last season. He never became a great defender, never really developed a consistent 3-point shot (32.6% for his career) and appears to be well down the road from a hapless career.

So why bother bringing it then?

Well, he’s still only 27 years old. He still has career averages of 14.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He’s still 49.4% from the floor, and he’s been more than 50% from 2-point range every season he’s played (save for those dozen games in Boston this season) thanks to good midrange play.

Basically, the Jazz are looking wherever they can for someone who might have a skill set to improve the team.

“It’s really a year-long process. We start right after summer league, we just identify the guys that maybe go to the G League, go overseas, and we keep an updated roster all year long,” Taylor said. “I and our professional staff, [Vice President of Global Scouting] Luca Desta and his international staff, [we all] track guys throughout the year and coordinate with each other who’s playing well overseas, who’s playing well in the G League. And then we just go through it and see who would be interested in doing something like this.”

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