Let’s start this post with the good old player comparison game. Take a look at these stats below from the beginning of 2018 to now, and try to guess who these players are. As always, please don’t cheat…
Player A (six games) — 20.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals 0.7 blocks, 2.7 3PM, 49.5% FGs
Player B (seven games) — 19.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.6 blocks, 3.8 3PM, 51.4% FGs
Boom, Markkanen for the win! Lauri is Chicago’s next young Prince that is going to bring the Bulls back to their golden years, so welcome to my first of many Lauri Markkanen posts. Now in no way am I saying Lauri Markkanen is better than Klay Thompson, so please don’t @ me just yet on Twitter. All I am saying is that what Lauri is doing in his rookie season, and so far in 2018, is pretty damn awesome.
Here’s something else I came across this morning during my usual coffee/ Twitter routine that got me even more hype:
Again, I’m not trying to get ahead of myself here, but the fact that Lauri is making NBA history through 41 games (Markkanen went over 100 made threes last night), is definitely something to get excited about. On a side note, how amazing is it that Lauri has his own Markka-meter? Reminds me of Shawon Dunston and the Shawon-O-Meter growing up. If you are not a Cubs fan, you probably have no clue what I am talking about, so please just keep reading, lol.
Now if you are going to hop on the bandwagon, here are five quick things you should learn about him:
#1: Lauri was born in Vantaa, Finland.
#2: Lauri’s parents were both hoopers. Lauri’s dad actually played at Kansas (yes KU), and his mom played on the Finnish National team.
#3: Lauri is 7’0″ tall, with a 7’0″ wingspan, and his first name is pronounced Lowry, like Kyle Lowry.
#4: Lauri is tall, white, and from Europe, but I think he is sick of the Dirk comparisons already…
“It’s a huge honor to be compared to him, a Hall of Famer. I hear a lot of comparisons to Dirk so of course I watched him when I was growing up, especially when I started getting taller,” Markkanen said to the Chicago Tribune. “I was more watching guards because I played the 2 (guard spot) and 3 when I was a little bit younger.”
Lauri is basically saying shooting isn’t the only thing he can do well. Also if you guys remember from the Bulls rookie presser, Lauri said “I’m not soft.” He also said he does not like the “Europeans are soft” label.
When the Bulls drafted him, the one thing I knew for sure was that he could shoot. But I have to say, I’ve been very excited by his ability to handle the ball and drive. I’ve also been impressed by his defensive skills. Lauri does a great job of holding his ground when he gets switched onto smaller guys. More than anything, I’ve been blown away by his bounce and athleticism. Don’t believe me, just watch Lauri put Enes Kanter into a coffin!
#5: Lauri is a pretty funny dude. Check out Lauri as Borat:
All jokes aside, one question I keep asking myself everyday is, what is Lauri’s ceiling? Is it fair to start comparing Lauri to Kristaps? Both are 7 feet tall. Both are versatile, have handles, and can shoot 3’s. And both the Bulls and the Knicks need them to save their respective franchises.
Here is a quick look at Lauri and Kristaps rookie season stats:
Lauri Markkanen: 15.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.6 BPG, 2.5 3PMPG
Kristaps Porzingis: 14.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.1 3PMPG
I also love that Lauri has gotten up to play against Kristaps this year. The Bulls went 3-0 in those games, and here are their head to head stats from those games:
Lauri Markkanen: 20.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 3.7 3PMPG
Kristaps Porzingis: 23.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.0 BPG, 1.3 3PMPG
And in case you missed it, here is a nice little video of them going at each other in their last game:
The only reason I bring this is up, is because a lot of people were calling me ridiculous earlier this year when I compared the two. I think it is pretty safe to say now that it is a fair comparison to really start debating. And just the fact that we CAN start talking about it is great news for the Chicago Bulls and their fanbase, because that means the sky’s truly the limit for Lauri’s ceiling.
Lastly, I need some feedback…what is the best nickname for Lauri? Should we be calling him the “Finnisher” as some have called him on #NBATwitter? I personally like what I’ve been calling him since day 1, which is Lauri Legend…Larry Bird style baby. And if we can #SecureTheBagley next year, watch out, because our Young Prince might turn into a King, and the Bulls will be back in the game. More importantly, you will see me back on Twitter yelling Lauri foo! Bulls foo!
- H/T goes to @Ethan Norof for that tidbit