Jabari Parker on criticism of his defending: "They don't pay players to play defence"

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Jabari Parker recently completed a dream move to his hometown Chicago Bulls on a two-year, $40 million contract. 

The 23-year-old was officially introduced as a Bulls player this week after he ended his four-year stint with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The small forward was a restricted free agent this summer but the Bucks chose not to re-sign him due to concerns over his health. 

He's suffered two ACL injuries in the last four seasons and Milwaukee was unwilling to offer him the big deal he wanted. 

But Chicago had no doubts about giving him a big deal and he can now rebuild his career back in familiar surroundings. 


As a former number two overall pick, Parker is clearly a talented player who has shown flashes of it since he entered the league in 2014. 

Aside from his health issues, he does also have obvious weaknesses in his game he needs to address to justify the Bulls' big outlay on him. 

He's often been criticised for his poor defence and his lack of effort on that end of the floor. 

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But he offered an interesting response to his critics when he was recently questioned about it. 

"I just stick to my strengths," he said on 670 The Score in Chicago, via ESPN. "Look at everybody in the league. They don't pay players to play defence.

"There's only two people historically that play defence. I'm not going to say I won't, but to say that's a weakness is like saying that's everybody's weakness.

"Because I've scored 30 and 20 on a lot of guys that say they play defence."

The Boston Celtics' decision to re-sign defensive specialist Marcus Smart to a four-year, $52 million deal just a day after Parker's comments immediately contradicted him. 

Superstars such as LeBron James and Paul George earned themselves huge contracts for being among the elite two-way players in the league. 

In today's era, many teams elect to play switching defence to roll out small-ball lineups and combat opponents who play in the same style. 

Parker was asked if he's able to play in this style that's become so common in the league today. 

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"If you know the game, you also know that everyone's a pro, right?" he said. "And you know that certain guys have an average. 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 pay them that much. So, I'm not saying that to cop out or nothing. It's the NBA.

"We're professionals. Everybody scores. It's just about limiting them as much as you can, trying to contain them."

If the small forward averages 20+ points per game next season and showcase his offensive skills, Bulls fans won't care too much about his work defensively. 

But to become a truly great player and be mentioned alongside the best, you have to play on both ends of the floor. 

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