MILWAUKEE -- Bucks forward Jabari Parker will make his season debut Friday night against the New York Knicks, the team announced Monday. Parker has not played since tearing the ACL in his left knee for the second time on Feb. 8, 2017.
"I'm really excited," Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said after scoring 31 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in Monday's 107-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. "I know the fans are really excited about that, too. He's been through this twice in his career, just seeing him every day for the past year now working hard and being focused towards his return, I think it's big for him and we all got to embrace the moment. I know he's really excited. I think when he comes back he's going to take this team to the next level. He's going to help us defensively and offensively."
The Bucks are hopeful that Parker will be able to provide some offensive punch alongside Antetokounmpo and continue their winning ways under interim head coach Joe Prunty. Monday's win marked four straight victories since Prunty took over for fired head coach Jason Kidd last week.
"We know what he's capable of doing," Prunty said. "I don't think it would be fair to expect him to come out and do all the things that he's capable of doing just from the standpoint of the time frame of being off. But I think he can do a lot of things for us -- he can rebound the ball for us ... he can make plays to score himself, but he can make plays for others. Defensively, the rhythm of the game he's got to get locked into, not only guarding his man and the guy in front of him, but staying within the scheme and how we're guarding as a team."
Parker was not available to comment after Monday's game, but he acknowledged to ESPN in late July that the mental part of his second knee rehab is more difficult than the physical part.
"It's definitely mental," Parker told ESPN. "Especially if it happens to you more than once.
"But actually, me getting hurt the second time has helped me embrace [rehab and recovery] stronger than I did the first one. It gave me that mentality [of] I don't give a f--- no more. Excuse my language, but I just don't. If it happens [again], it happens. But I'm not going to let that hold me back. And if it happens again, I'm just going to do the same stuff I was before."
Prunty would not reveal exactly what the plan would be as far as a minutes restriction, but he acknowledged there would be one as Parker makes his way back.
"As he's worked so hard to get back, things have kind of been in segments or stages," Prunty said. "Now that he's back it'll still kind of be like that."
Parker averaged 20.1 points per game last season before his injury, second on the team behind only Antetokounmpo.