NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Lauri Markkanen

By: Nick Neppach & Josh Clark

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Lauri Markkanen: Power Forward, Arizona

  • Height: 7’0″ Weight: 230 lbs.
  • Can be deadly in the pick and pop. Sharpshooter, ability to score in other ways.
  • Average length, needs more consistency on the boards.

Lauri Markkanen was a first team all-Pac 12 selection in his only season at Arizona, and also made the conference’s all-freshman team. He’s seeking to become the second Finnish-born player to play in the NBA. The other was Hanno Mottola, a second-round pick by the Atlanta Hawks out of Utah in 2000. Mottola left Atlanta in 2002 and never returned to the league.

Markkanen is the best shooter among the big men in this class. In fact, he was one of the best 7 ft. shooters in NCAA history, according to Draft Express. A sharpshooter from beyond the arc at 42.3% from three, Arizona’s use of Markkanen in the pick and pop has really showcased his ability to spot up catch and shoot. He has got good feet, a quick release, and it’s all in rhythm. He shows that here against Cal.

A sharpshooter from beyond the arc at 42.3% from three, Arizona’s use of Markkanen in the pick and pop really showcased his ability to spot up, catch and shoot. He has good feet, a quick release, and it’s all in rhythm. He shows that here against Cal.

Many people rave about Markkanen’s ability from three, and rightfully so. But if a defender closes him out, or runs him off his spot, he can finish inside the three-point line as well. This is a great example from Arizona’s game against UCLA. Leaf stays with him after the screen. But instead of forcing a contested three, Markkanen dribbles into the paint, puts on a nice spin move, and makes a nifty finish.

According to Hoop-Math.com, Markkanen is converted 69.5% of his FG attempts at the rim.

If he isn’t able to get to the rim, the two-point jumper is there. Hoop-Math has Markkanen at 42.4% on two point jumpers. Against Cal, Markkanen shows a behind back crossover, gets to the baseline and draws the foul. Another positive for Markkanen is his ability to shoot from the free throw line. The big man shot 83.5% from the stripe in his freshman season.

Mike Schmitz of Draft Express did a quick video breakdown of Markkanen’s game vs. Washington, showing his ability to hit two point jumpers. Check it out HERE.

Markkanen doesn’t have much of an inside game and could struggle defensively at the next level. He is a good athlete, but not a great one. His lack of elite athleticism could lead to tough moments in the NBA. On the boards, he grabs 7.5 per game. Which isn’t bad, but I (Neppach) would like to see him attack the glass more.

So where does Markkanen fit in today’s NBA? He’s a power forward, but he’s part of the recent wave of players that are called a “stretch four.” A stretch four will draw his man out to the 3-point line because of his perimeter shooting ability. Dirk Nowitzki was the first to start this new wave of players in the game. Since then, players such as Ryan Anderson, Draymond Green, Kevin Love and Kristaps Porzingis have emerged onto the scene. Because of the way the game is played today, a big man that can shoot from deep is extremely valuable for spacing on the court.

In normal drafts, Marrkanen is undoubtedly a top-3 pick, partly because general managers are infatuated with finding the next Dirk Nowitzki. However, because this draft is so deep, he’s likely destined for a selection between the 6th and 12th picks.

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