NBA Draft Profile: Lauri Markkanen
Measurables: 7’0 , 230 pounds
Statistics: 15.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 0.9 APG
Lauri Markkanen is the epitome of today’s NBA, he is your prototypical stretch four with some impressive guard skills that should make for an intriguing prospect. The appeal for Markkanen starts with his shooting, in his lone season at Arizona he shot an impressive 42% from the three point line on 4.4 attempts per game, that combined with his 54% conversion rate inside the three-point line and you have a guy that has the potential to be an offensive superstar. At Arizona he showed an impressive handle from the four spot and even at times operated the pick-and-roll within in the system and came off of pin down screens for pull-up jumpers. If he can’t do anything else on the floor, the one thing he will be able to do is shoot. However , look for him to develop his offensive repertoire as he matures in the league. At the ripe age of 20, he has plenty of time to grow and mature into the all-star caliber player people expect him to be.
For all of Lauri Markkanen strengths offensively, all of his weaknesses are solely on the defensive side of the ball. Teams drafting Lauri Markkanen in the lottery are not drafting him to be an anchor of their defense. He struggles mightily to guard pick-and-roll ball handlers, which is surprising for a forward with his mobility and skillset. In order for him to succeed in a team’s frontcourt, he has to be surrounded with competent rebounders, last year he had a 14% true rebounding percentage which is not good for a 7’0 forward playing close to 30 minutes a game. The only reason Arizona was one of the top rebounding and defensive teams in the nation was because of their guards, who were really good rebounders at their position. At the next level Lauri Markkanen has to get better and tougher on that side of the ball, especially playing the four spot, where they are going to run a lot of spread pick-and-rolls and try to attack him off the bounce. At the next level it is a must that he develops a certain level of toughness, he doesn’t have to be a defensive stopper but he at least has to be competent enough to execute the schemes his team wants to execute.
Markkanen’s options are vast because of his skillset, he would fit best next to a defensive minded big, a defensive team in need of spacing, or a team looking to create a young core. He probably won’t fall this low but Miami is the best team fit for Lauri, with Hassan Whiteside grabbing every rebound you could hide him on the glass, and they have a plethora of guards and forwards who can hide him defensively. A more realistic team, however, are the Kings and Hornets both teams need scoring badly and Markkanen would be just what the doctor ordered. For the Kings he would give them an offensive star to build around, and for the Hornets he will give Kemba Walker a pick-and-roll partner that could finally give him adequate space to create offense for that team.
The best case scenario for Lauri Markkanen is we see a player in the middle of Dirk Nowitzki and Kristaps Porzingis. He is not quite the scorer that Nowitzki is nor is he is the kind of defender Porzingis is, however, he has elements of both their games that could make him the hybrid of the two. He has the mobility of Porzingis and the shooting touch of Nowitzki , if he can solidify the defensive side of the ball, he will be just a tier below of Porzingis and that’s only because Porzingis has the opportunity to be a superstar. The floor for Markkanen is we get another Justin Hamilton clone which is a big that does nothing but shoots jumpshots, who doesn’t bring much in the way of defense or even playmaking, if that’s too harsh then we will see a lesser version of Andrea Bargnani.