The past two days saw the Boston Celticsre-sign defensive specialist Marcus Smart to a big contract and the Toronto Raptors acquire two-time defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard, but new Chicago Bulls forward Jabari Parker says it's not defense that pays.
"I just stick to my strengths," he said on 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday. "Look at everybody in the league. They don't pay players to play defense. There's only two people historically that play defense. 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 defense."
Parker signed a two-year, $40 million contract with his hometown Bulls last week and is trying to resurrect his career. He underwent two knee surgeries during four seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, missing 145 regular-season games.
According to basketball-reference.com, Parker has 4.3 defensive win shares over four seasons. Leonard had 4.7 in his last full season in 2016-17 and has 24.7 in his seven-year career. Smart -- who agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with Boston on Thursday, sources told ESPN -- has 9.8 DWS in his four-year career.
Parker was asked if he thinks he can play today's switching defense -- not necessarily being a shutdown guy but doing his part in the team scheme.
"If you know the game, you also know that everyone's a pro, right?" he told the radio station. "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."
Parker, the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, averages 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and one steal per game for his career. Smart was taken sixth in the same draft and averages 9.4 points, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Leonard, who was drafted in 2011, outpaces both of them with 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
The Bulls ranked 28th last season in defensive efficiency, while champion Golden State was tied for eighth. Smart's Celtics led the league, and Parker's Bucks were 17th. The year before, Leonard's Spurs topped the NBA, while Chicago was sixth.
Parker doesn't put as much stock in defense as some around the league.
"A better offense wins a championship," he said.
He might have a point. The Warriors led the league in offensive efficiency the past three years, during which time they won two titles. They finished second in efficiency in 2014-15, another championship season.