Leading up to the NBA Draft we will be analyzing scouting reports for various players who have entered their name in this year’s NBA Draft. The focus of these articles will be on prospects who we find most intriguing and feel readers need to become more familiar with. Please let us know if you want any players specifically @edupridepress. All stats and videos are via KenPom, ESPN, DraftExpress, and YouTube.
Lauri Markkanen – PF – Arizona
Weight: 225 lbs
Projected: 7 (CPP Big Board) 7 (CPP Mock Draft)
Background: Our next player breakdown will focus on Finnish big man Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen came to the United States a year ago to play in college and adapt to the American game. Shortly after the season started it was clear that America would have to adapt to him. Markkanen looked like a veteran on the court for Arizona. He dazzled scouts and spectators with his inside out offensive repertoire. The comparisons for Markkanen have been absurd (*cough* Dirk *cough*) but Markkanen is more of a known commodity than other European bigs because he did play a year in college. Markkanen immediately shot up draft boards and his stock has remained steady since. He is a lock to be a lottery pick with a very good chance to move into the Top 10 based on trades and team needs.
Strengths: Lauri Markkanen is an offensive weapon. He can do a little of everything on that end of the floor. The one offensive category that Markkanen really impressed with was his three point shooting ability. Markkanen shot 42.3% from deep while attempting 4 shots per game. He is a deadly shooter from deep and will be able to add that to the NBA next year. He is not just a shooter as he also displayed a nice variety of scoring moves whether it be in the post, off the pick and roll, or with a dribble drive. Markkanen is very comfortable with the ball in his hands which will suit him well at the next level. The Dirk Nowitzki and Kristaps Porzingis comparisons are valid on the offensive end. He is one of the best shooters in this draft class and at 7′ tall he can be an asset to an NBA team right away.
Weaknesses: Markkanen comes into the league with similar question marks as many international bigs. “What position will Markkanen play? Can he guard power forwards? Will he provide any rim protection?” All these questions must be answered for Markkanen to be worth the lottery pick that a team will use on him. Markkanen is not a fantastic defender but his feet are quick allowing him to stay in front of a smaller forwards. He will need to improve his defense and provide some threat of rim protection so that he can provide off ball defense. Lauri only averaged .5 blocks a game at Arizona and that number will need to increase as he gets stronger and more experienced.
The only true weakness in Markkanen’s offensive game is his passing. Markkanen averaged only one assist per game last season which is low given the defensive attention he got. Markkanen will see double teams and traps in the NBA and he will have to make the right decisions to put the ball in the right spot.
Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
Bam! Kristaps was much more of an unknown coming into the NBA Draft but has taken the league by storm with his deep shooting and growing offensive game. Markkanen is already the offensive threat that Kristaps is. The Paul Bunion figure of Porzingis is the only thing setting him apart. The ceiling for Markkanen is….Dirk. I am that high on Markkanen and believe he can be a special player in the NBA for years to come. Look for Markkanen to be a steal getting picked outside the Top 5 when all is said and done.
Be sure to check out our other Top 30 Breakdowns and NBA Draft Charts: