Milwaukee didn’t anticipate being 10 games below .500 this late in the season, and while the team contemplated overhauling its roster, one player was deemed untouchable.
In the two games following the All-Star break, Jabari Parker has proven he is capable of blossoming into the player the Bucks expected when selecting him with the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
The eight day layoff at All-Star weekend paved the way to a stellar start of the second half of the year for Parker.
In 41 minutes against the Hornets, Parker poured in a season-high 23 points along with 11 rebounds, two assists and a steal.
The 20-year-old followed up with an even better performance in Atlanta the following night.
Parker helped secure a double-overtime victory Saturday night with a 28 point, 13 rebound, two assists performance in 51 minutes.
The points and rebounds not only marked career-highs for Parker, but served notice to the rest of the league that no lingering effects remain from the torn ACL in his left knee.
The raw numbers for Parker may be down in his second season, but his efficiency has increased dramatically. Parker is converting 49.1 percent of his attempts from the field, is shooting 7.5 percent better at the foul line and reduced his turnovers by 0.5 per game.
Since the All-Star break, the explosiveness in his game has returned.
For the year, Parker has totaled just four double-doubles, but two have been submitted on consecutive nights.
The Bucks anticipated Parker into becoming a franchise caliber player, and while a knee injury altered his trajectory, his path is beginning to clear.
Ian Mahinmi– Indiana Pacers
Available in 74% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues
The nine day layoff at the All-Star break revitalized Mahinmi. In his first game back, the 6-foot-11 center dominated the Thunder, as he posted 19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals in 35 minutes. Just 23 players in the league have totaled at least 40 blocks and 40 steals this season, but Mahinmi is the only player to accumulate the figures while playing fewer than 1,100 minutes. The Pacers value his defensive impact and as long as he is healthy, there should be plenty of minutes available for Mahinmi.
Mizra Teletovic– Phoenix Suns
Available in 70% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues
The path has been cleared for Teletovic, as Markieef Morris was dealt to Washington and the combination of Alex Len and Tyson Chandler are battling injuries. In 34 minutes against the Rockets Friday night, Teletovic poured in a season-high 25 points as he connected on 3-of-7 attempts from 3-point range. The three conversions from 3-point range allowed Teletovic to surpass Ryan Anderson for the most 3-point field goals made by a power forward this season, as the 6-foot-9 forward out of Bosnia has made 110 3-pointers and is shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Vince Carter– Memphis Grizzlies
Available in 99% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues
The addition of Carter is a long shot for fantasy owners, but as he proved against the Timberwolves, he can hit the long shot. A heave from three-quarters court served as the primary highlight during a season-high 15 point performance Friday night, but Carter proved he can make an impact as long as he is on the court. As one of just nine active players remaining drafted in the 1990’s, the 39-year-old reached is still polishing is resume. Carter reached an unexpected milestone this week, becoming just the sixth player in league history to convert over 1,900 shots from 3-point range.
Donald Sloan– Brooklyn Nets
Available in 92% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues
The starting job in Brooklyn appears to belong to Sloan, and in his first outing following the All-Star break, he showcased his wide array of skills. As the Nets secured a 109-98 victory over the Knicks, Sloan scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds along with four assists, two steals and a block in 30 minutes. Sloan has started at the point guard position in each of the last 18 games for Brooklyn and has spent an average of 26.5 minutes on the floor.
Brandon Jennings– Orlando Magic
Available in 62% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues
Orlando was desperate for someone to provide poise, playmaking and scoring production in crunch time. In his first game with the Magic, Jennings managed to check off each category during an overtime victory against the Mavericks, as he sank 4-of-9 attempts from 3-point range as part of an 18 point debut. Jennings lifted the team in the extra session, assisting on a pair of 3-pointers and hitting two critical free throws. While Jennings may not start, the 25 minutes he played Friday night could be indicative of his place in the rotation.