The Finnish Freak? Mark-Marvelous? The fact that Lauri Markkanen has not received a clever nickname is confirmation that he has run with the Bulls unrecognized, in this his rookie year in Chi-Town.
Lauri Markkanen made his case (Dun-Dun) to become the NBA Rookie of the Year with his record-setting performance against the struggling Miami Heat. He became the fastest player in NBA history to reach 100 three pointers in just his 41st game of the season.
Last night he added to his resume a 17 point, 9 rebound performance going 3-6 from the three-point line in 30 minutes.
For reference, it took Stephen Curry 58 and Ray Allen 76 games in their first year to hit that mark. The original record was set by Damian Lillard in 2013 (2.3) Lillard currently holds the season record with 185 (h/t tuscon.com).
Voted as a Third Team All-American by the Associated Press, USA Today, and Sporting News, Markkanen was a Finalist for John R. Wooden Award and the Karl Malone Award in 2016. To say that this guy would be a great “Player in the Community” was a given. The chance the Bulls took was if he could prove himself on the floor.
The knock on Markkanen is his size and quickness which is most obvious when he plays defense on the association’s other high-caliber small and power-forwards. Chicago has Kris Dunn, an emerging point guard, and some veteran role players assembled into an on-court version of the Odd Couple(s).
“Sometimes you get labeled as a shooter. But he really is a complete basketball player,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s versatile. He can put the ball on the deck. He slides his feet really well for a guy who is 7 feet tall at his age. (h/t Chicago Tribune)
“He’s learning on the fly. He’s going to have ups and downs. But he’s played pretty darn well for everything he’s been through and understanding two days ago he’s going to be in the lineup.”
As the NBA game evolves, Markkanen seems like the new prototypical player, a tall shooter, maybe can’t guard a Steph, or Kyrie, patient yet aggressive and one that should be afforded more fanfare and attention. NBA defenses keep softening when the ball is in his hands.
During one game in October, Markkanen buried a three-pointer with 48.5 seconds left to assure that the Chicago Bulls skirted their first 0-4 start since the 07-08 season.
Markkannen is the Tennessee Tuxedo to Kristaps Porzingis’ Chumley. He will cross him over and step-back draining the three while being the Forward With the Dragon Three-Pointer. Lauri will continue to ravage the league. There will be those “defensive specialists” that believe they can stop him but it will continue? Can it be sustained?
The head the of Unicorn has grown a new branch. And it’s Finnish. A Fin, if you will. A terrible joke, for a bloke that will push through that wall.