Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen is shooting for the top in a remarkable first professional season
Growing up as the son of Finnish basketball stalwarts Pekka and Riika Markkanen and the brother of professional footballer Eero Markkanen, young Lauri had a lot to live up to but took to the game of basketball with ease. After a promising school career at the Helsinski Basketball Academy, Lauri Markkanen had a series of breakout performances for the national youth squads and garnered attention from professional teams in Europe.
Despite this, he chose to enroll at the University of Arizona where he had a standout freshman year playing alongside a very talented Wildcats team, including a 30-point outburst against rivals Arizona State. The 7-footer secured first-team All-Pac 12 honors for his efforts, before gaining international attention as he put on a show for the Finnish men’s national team at EuroBasket 2017. Showcasing his ability to score in the post in addition to his usual long-distance marksmanship, the youngster averaged 20 points per game at the tournament amidst more experienced opponents and became the go-to player for his team in the clutch.
As a lottery pick for the Chicago Bulls, the 20-year-old came into the League with high expectations, which he once again met with ease. His perimeter shooting is the first thing to catch the eye, as he goes about breaking all manners of three-point shooting records such as being the fastest rookie to 100 made threes. Markkanen is far more than a great shooter for his height – he is a great shooter, period. At the same time, he has also shown the potential to be more than just a shooter in the NBA, with his lateral movement and quick rotations on defense and his rebounding instincts, being second among all rookies in rebounds. He has also shown a surprising propensity to dunk on unsuspecting defenders. It won’t be long before every scouting report highlights his game as the focal point for the Chicago Bulls.
Article written by Wong Chin Yi. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the NBA.