Earlier this season Lauri Markkanen, or the aptly named, “Finnisher,” became the fastest player in NBA league history to reach 100 career 3-point field goals– doing so in just 41 games– besting former record holder and two-time MVP Stephen Curry by an astounding 17 games.
Now on the eve of the Bulls final regular season game in an up and down season which has simultaneously included loads of frustration and plenty of promise– Markannen included– the seventh overall pick of last year’s draft has a chance to break Kirk Hinrich’s record for 3-pointers made by a Bulls rookie (144) in a single season.
The Finland native currently sits only four treys behind Hinrich in the record books, and with two games remaining on the schedule, he seems destined to usurp his position.
Lauri Markkanen’s Incredibly Unpredictable Rookie Campaign
Coming out of Arizona most Bulls fans as you may recall probably had no, to very little idea who Lauri Markkanen was. So given that, when perhaps the highest profile trade in Bulls history went down and Chicago received Minnesota’s pick at the number seven spot, after saying, “WHAT?!” when Minnesota chose the Finnish power forward for Chicago, people all over the country rushed to their computers to see who exactly this young lanky kid with the odd foreign name was.
What they found were scouting reports that ranged from what would appear mediocre to slightly better than mediocre. They were a combination of three major things– an incredible shooter, a limited creator and a massive liability on defense.
“Great, another Nikola Mirotic,” some would say and, “FIRE GARPAX IMMEDIATELY,” most would say.
Fast forward to season’s end and Markkanen has become the fastest player ever to 100 3-pointers made and may become the Bulls rookie leader in three-pointers made. It’s also worth noting that he would have had a chance at breaking Damian Lillard’s record of 185 made 3-pointers in a rookie season had he not been limited in his minutes so heavily by a combination of injuries and overzealous tanking.
Not to mention, the cherry on top has been Markkanen’s surprisingly terrific athleticism.
The Athletic so eloquently and perfectly described this portion of his game in the not so distant past:
As far as Markkanen’s other offensive skills, he’s been a scoring threat from everywhere on the court. He’s not yet strong enough to take advantage of post-ups against big men, but he’s been very good on mismatches against guards. And his ability to put the ball on the floor continues to surprise defenders around the league. When he gets a step, he can finish at the rim with athleticism that he did not get a chance to showcase in college at Arizona.
Markkanen still has to improve as a help-side defender. But his foot speed has been way better than advertised, and he’s held his own when he’s found himself having to guard on the perimeter. He’s been a capable defensive rebounder, which was supposed to be another weakness area for him.
Last summer, Bulls fans may have been clamoring for the figurative and literal head of the Bulls upper management that is the infamous Garpax. However, as we sit right now, even at the tail end of a lost season– Markkanen has been a welcome surprise and a needed addition to a young rising core of promising Bulls talent.
As much as we would hate to admit to anything that monster at the top does right, we must give credit where credit is due– Garpax got it right with the Finnisher.