As a 7-footer, you’d think the Chicago Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen would play like other tall tree branches like himself.
But he’s a finesse guy.
In today’s hoops world, everybody wants to dribble, crossover and shoot threes.
At 7-feet tall, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is a walking stats stuffer in Mike Budenholzer’s system.
At 6’5, James Harden was a triple double threat as pretty much a point guard in the Houston Rockets’ system.
Markkanen is gifted in the Chicago Bulls’ system.
The big man is great at moving off screens and going left. He’s proficient at creating space and has great court awareness to distribute the ball when double teammed.
The Finnish face up power forward gets it honestly.
“I played guard my whole life,” Markkanen told Scoop B Radio.
“I used to double on my inside game a couple of years back, so it’s really whatever coach wants me to play. I can play whatever he asks me to.”
Having played for HBA-Märsky in Finland from 2014 to 2016 and then playing at U of A as a freshman, Markkanen is versed in playing both the European and American game.
“Some legalities of the game are more physical here,” he said.
“I would say half-court offense are weaker back home. I would really say offense and defense really stood out to me, like you really got to get back on defense, players are more athletic, so that’s definitely one thing.”
With those experiences, he’s ready for the big dance: “I feel that it prepared me really well,” he said.
“Obviously, I played my whole career back home, then I wanted to challenge myself and this game is a little different here. So I wanted to challenge myself to be better, so I feel that I have both experiences now.”
Markkanen grew up being both a huge Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant fan.
He says he was glued to the television during the 2006 NBA Finals when Wade’s Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks in those NBA Finals. Wade averaged a heroic 34.7 PPG 7.8 RBG and 3.8 AST in that series.
Markkanen was hooked on Wade’s execution: “Super quick and impacting the game in a lot of ways,” he said of Wade.
“I really liked him and how he played.”
Markkanen likes Bryant too.
When pressed about his two fondest moments of Black Mamba he broke it down: “I remember he shot like 3 three’s in a row against the Toronto Raptors,” he said.
“And tied the game to go to the overtime, that’s one,” he said. “I watched the 81 point games, so that would probably be two.”