Lauri Markkanen comes into the 2017 NBA draft as one of this year's purest shooters. The Finland native is weak defensively, but he has big potential entering the professional ranks following a single season of college basketball.
The 7-foot power forward spent his freshman year at Arizona, averaging 15.6 points and just over seven rebounds per game. Markkanen was a first-team all-Pac-12 selection. He was projected to be a top-10 pick, and the Minnesota Timerwolves took him at No. 7 overall.
Learn more about Markkanen below.
Bio: The highest-rated European prospect of the 2016 recruiting class, Markkanen did not disappoint during his freshman season at Arizona. The 7’0” sharpshooter from Finland truly burst onto the scene with a dominant performance at last year’s U20 European Championships. His strong play in the Pac-12 earned Third-Team All-American honors from multiple media outlets and garnered a first-team all-conference selection.
Strengths: Markkanen is arguably the premier shooter in the draft. He drained 42.3% of his attempts from the outside at Arizona, hoisting 4.4 per game. The NBA three-point line also won’t pose a challenge for his fluid mechanics. He’s a good rebounder, although he won’t make a living on the offensive glass. Scouts who evaluated his European performances also rave about his ability to handle the ball, both in transition and in half-court isolation settings. The thought of Markkanen running 4-5 pick-and-rolls with Karl-Anthony Towns or Kristaps Porzingis could induce nightmares for opposing NBA coaching staffs.
Weaknesses: What promise Markkanen brings on the offensive end, he equally lacks on the other. The defensive boards he gobbled appear translatable on tape, but he will struggle defending in space at the next level. For someone who attempted over 13 shots a game at Arizona, Markennan was an extremely limited playmaker, dishing just 32 assists in 37 games. There’s a legitimate fear he will never grow into more than just a knockdown shooter who spaces the floor for his teammates. That’s certainly a valuable player in the modern NBA, but those picking in the top 10 are certainly hoping to add a prospect who can provide far more.
- Jake Fischer
The Timberwolves will make this pick for the Bulls in a deal for Jimmy Butler. The returns on that trade are not yet official (reportedly Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and this selection), but the Markkanen selection is a questionable one for Chicago by any measure. Although his considerable shooting ability at 7’0” gives him plenty of room to develop as a scorer, Markkanen’s all-around skill set needs a lot of work. There are concerns that his defensive struggles could seriously limit his upside. The Bulls weren’t looking to address a big need here, and eliminating that variable there were better prospects available at this spot. Chicago rolled the dice, and surrendered its best player in the process. It’s a tough sell. – Jeremy Woo
Fast facts about Lauri Markkanen
Birthday: May 22, 1997
Position: Power forward
Weight: 225 lbs.
Hometown: Vantaa, Finland
High school: Helsinki Basketball Academy