Lauri Markkannen is one of the most intriguing young prospects that we are going to see in the 2017 NBA Draft. The freshman phenom from the University of Arizona fits the NBA game today perfectly. His size and shooting touch will make him difficult to pass up for many teams. He is believed to be a high first-round draft pick by most pundits and scouts alike.
Arizona freshman Lauri Markkanen (15.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG) declares for draft and will hire an agent; Chad Ford’s No. 8 rated prospect
— Analyzed Sports (@AnalyzedSports) March 30, 2017
Markkanen’s shooting ability might be the best attribute he can bring to any NBA team early on. Seven-footers with great shooting touches are like gold for franchises. Markkanen shot 42.3-percent from three in his freshman year at Arizona, and no seven-footer has made more threes than him in the NCAA since 2000.
This will allow teams to use him in a variety of ways. You will see him used heavily in pick-and-pop situations which is what he excelled at during his time at Arizona. It will give him the option of taking a jump shot, or taking a big-man off the dribble. Those abilities to make quick decisions with the ball off screens will make him hard to pass on for teams selecting in the lottery.
Markkanen has a lot to offer on the offensive side of the ball, but not much to offer defensively. Despite being seven feet tall, he lacks the strength to really battle defensively on the block, and doesn’t have great enough instincts to guard on the perimeter. As much as teams would love to play him at the Center position to stretch the floor, if he comes against a big like DeMarcus Cousins or Marc Gasol, he would have a difficult time dealing with their skill-sets.
Markannen is only 225 pounds, and that small frame will make it difficult for him on the glass. He struggled in college to gain position on big men with thick frames. If he was struggling on the college level with thick frames, he’s in for a world of trouble when he has to face up against rebounding heavyweights such as Deandre Jordan, Hassan Whiteside, and Andre Drummond.
Best Fit (Top 10 Picks)
Markkanen will likely be drafted in the top 10. The team that would be the best fit for him would be the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota needs a big alongside Karl Anthony-Towns that can stretch the floor. Markkanen’s shooting ability would open up driving lanes for wings Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, and it would give Towns more room to operate in the post. Gorgui Dieng simply does not bring the offensive upside that you need in today’s NBA. Markannen might be just what the doctor ordered in a young Minnesota side looking for an identity.