With playoff positioning on the line, Bucks unleash Parker

Welcome to the 2017-18 edition of the Young Bucks Tracker. This year, we’re taking a different tact. With Milwaukee now having a G League franchise, the Wisconsin Herd, each Thursday we’ll either track the progress of the players who might be of help to the Bucks in the future or a current member of the Milwaukee roster. We’ll also give updates on the other young players from the previous week.

This is the 18th edition of the 2017-18 Young Bucks Tracker.

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Forward Jabari Parker

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We’ve been waiting for Parker to be fully unleashed since his return from his second torn ACL. This past week it finally happened.

Parker had reached 30 minutes just twice in his first 21 games — and he just barely topped that mark both times (30:10 and 30:04).

With Saturday’s game against Denver going into overtime — and Giannis Antetokounmpo ejected late in the fourth quarter — any minutes restriction Parker might still be on was thrown out the window.

Parker played 39:07, his most minutes since January 2017, and scored 35 points on 14-of-23 shooting (60.9 percent), making 5 of 8 3-point attempts, and grabbing 10 rebounds.

The points were one off Parker’s career high, set against Houston on Feb. 29, 2016. It was his first 30-point game since Dec. 28, 2016 and the fifth of his career.

The 10 rebounds were also a season high and marked Parker’s first double-double since Feb. 3, 2017 — which was also at Denver.

Parker followed that game up by surpassing 30 minutes again (30:39) in a win over Boston on Tuesday in which he had a season-high plus-13 box score +/-.

Overall in his four games last week, Parker shot 52.7 percent from the field, including making 8 of 17 3s (47.1 percent), while averaging 17.3 points.

With Milwaukee fighting for playoff positioning and the postseason around the corner, it will be interesting to see how many minutes Parker will log and what kind of impact he’ll have.

BUCKSHOTS

— Entering Thursday’s game, Giannis Antetokounmpo has posted three straight double-doubles. He had 32 points against Golden State in the one game last week in which he didn’t have a double-double.

Tyler Zeller continues to impress on the offensive boards. Of his 26 rebounds last week, 10 were offensive.

— With the season winding down, Khris Middleton is second in the NBA in minutes played, just behind Cleveland’s LeBron James (2,898 to 2,857). Antetokounmpo leads the league in 2-pointers, by three over New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. Antetokounmpo is also second in free throws and free-throw attempts, but well behind Houston’s James Harden in both.