Congrats to Jabari Bird (Peach Jam) and the AAU Oakland Soldiers on the EYBL Championship!!!!
— jabari bird (@jbird2013) September 5, 2012
A natural scorer, Bird possesses all the tools needed to breakdown an overly aggressive defender and shoot over a more passive one. He appears comfortable driving and finishing with either hand and routinely scores thru contact. Devastating in the open court and confident almost to a fault Bird has graced the frames of many the mixtape and highlight package. Although it is Bird’s above the rim play which has garnered a large YouTube following, it is his mechanically uncluttered and easily repeatable jumper which separates him from all but a handful of ’13 recruits. Whether it is a dribble-drive ending in an effective “teardrop” or a hesitation dribble followed by a quick stop-and-pop jumper, Bird has an almost endless array of scoring options in his ever-evolving arsenal. The question for any opposing coach is “Who guards #8?”. In ’11-’12 Bird went for 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists a game. Few aside from the quickest 1’s and 2’s can match his agility and his height and bounce require the size of a 3 or 4 to combat. Having recently narrowed to five (Arizona Wildcats, Cal Golden Bears, Colorado Buffaloes, Oregon Ducks, Washington Huskies) his list of college destinations, Bird looks to add his name to the list of recent West coast stars (Gabe York, Brandon Ashley, Xavier Johnson, etc.) rejuvenating the PAC-12.
Much of what impresses in Bird’s game also intersects with his areas of opportunity for improvement. Confidence affords Bird the nerve to pull the trigger whenever the opportunity arises. Over-confidence occasionally leads Bird to the unnecessary or forced shot. Like many young and talented hoopers, he will attempt to “take over” a game when he and his team would be better served by increased ball distribution. In the open court Bird kills overly aggressive defenders with crossovers and hesitation dribbles. Controlled aggression (on the part his defender), however, can force Bird into Turnover’s. The defender can’t afford to sag back because Bird will burn him from deep, and the defender can’t dive in because Bird’s reflexes and reactions are just too quick. Play him tight, without overcommitting, and muscle him up a bit, and you may get into his dribble. In a recent 13 game stretch his AAU Oakland Soldiers Bird chipped in 21 Assists, but committed with 18 Turnovers. Given his elite talent an A/TO ratio closer to 2:1 should be attainable and expected. Bird’s defensive game remains a work in progress. He has all the physical attributes of a lockdown defender. It is most likely a matter of focus and desire which will determine if he hits the mark.
The ceiling to Jabari Bird’s game is exceptionally high. As mentioned, he is a natural scorer unafraid to put the team on his shoulders. My take is Bird can take his current game (as is) and score 15-17 per game for any D1 school out there. The combination of an all but effortless outside shot and an uncanny ability to breakdown multiple defenders off the dribble makes the man all but unguardable in man-to-man schemes. He will need to bulk up into the 195-205lb range to insure his body holds under the increased physicality of high major basketball, and with a 6’6 frame, it should not come at the cost of speed/agility. My preference is to see him in an uptempo/transition-based flow allowing his creativity and unique skillset the opportunity to flourish. That covers his game as it sits today. If, however, Bird continues to improve his shot selection, works to insure teammates remain involved, and tightens up his defense…were looking at a truly outstanding player, frankly, a one-and-done type player. Jabari Bird possesses crazy God-given talent, a flair for the spectacular, and a big game mentality. The unique combination of which leads me to a final question; how far does he take it?
- Jabari Bird Names Washington And Cal His Top Two Schools (seattle.sbnation.com)
- Aaron Gordon, Jabari Bird Named To ESPN All-American Watch List (bayarea.sbnation.com)
- Oakland Soldiers YouTube Video Guide (blogs.sfweekly.com)