Players do not choose what team they end up with when the NBA draft occurs. Initially, Lauri Markkanen got drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the seventh overall pick. On the very same day Markkanen got traded to the Chicago Bulls. Time will tell if both clubs made the right decision.
In the meantime, Markkanen is busy trying to improve his skillset. He is tall player with shooting range that is a necessity rather than a luxury for teams. Markkanen has a slim build, which is a double edge sword. He can move up and down the court smoothly in comparison with big men who are bulkier in nature. On the other hand, those bulkier players can overpower him in the post.
Nowadays the league rules favor players who derive their effectiveness in the non-contact area of the game versus the contact area. For example, during an interaction between a player with the ball and a defender, a minimal amount of contact usually results in the defensive player getting a foul. The rate at which these foul calls occur increases if the offensive player is at a superstar level. Of course, another factor in these situations is the judgement of the referee. All factors aside, the league is now being dominated by players who derive their bread and butter with a mindset of a shooter rather than a bruiser. The current NBA rule standards results in players having to potentially modify their skillset. Fortunately, Markkanen is not a bruiser and the current rules favor his playing style.
Markkanen did not have to overcome a difficult barrier to be in the playing rotation. Fred Hoiberg, the Chicago Bulls head coach, reluctantly had to provide Markkanen a significant role after the unfortunate incident between Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis. Players need playing time to obtain game relevant experience. Also, there is a limit to what one can learn solely through observation. So, Markkanen is learning on the job rather than getting up to speed behind the scenes. All these games he will get to be a part of will undoubtedly accelerate his growth.
Currently, Portis has returned from his eight-game suspension. Markkanen’s role with the team will most likely shift. Also, Mirotic has not returned yet because of his facial injury and concussion. It remains to be seen if Mirotic will return to the team or request a trade.
Markkanen has proven himself in terms of being able to shoot from deep range and defend opponents at reasonable levels given his rookie status. However, the sample size to analyze Markkanen is rather small. If Mirotic returns, then Markkanen’s role with the team will shift even more. No matter what happens it is a given that Markkanen will need patience. How this matter is resolved and what type of role he will have with the team is out of his control. The only thing Markkanen can control is his ability to perform on the court.
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