The Chicago Bulls have high expectations for 2019-2020. They have a young, athletic roster in place that just got done adding some veteran experience with Thaddeus Young. Zach Lavine looks like an emerging All-Star and rookie Coby White is already turning heads at point guard. The general feeling is if this team can put it all together, they have a chance to make a serious run at the postseason. The vital key to it all though rests with Lauri Markkanen.
The seven-foot forward from Finland had an exciting second season with the Bulls, averaging 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Unfortunately, this was marred by injury problems. Markkanen missed a total of 30 games last season. It’s hoped that both he and Lavine can make it through the season healthy, giving them a dynamic one-two punch on the offensive end. If Wendell Carter Jr. and Young can help on the defensive end, this team does indeed look promise.
One guy who is a big believer in the 22-year old Markkanen is top NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. On the “Woj & Lowe” show for NBA on ESPN, they pinpointed their breakout players for the upcoming season. Wojnarowski isn’t sure he’ll be up to the level of a Dirk Nowitzki type, but he sounds convinced the kid will torch a lot of teams on the offensive end for years to come.
“He’s going to be a star in this league. I’m not sure he’s going to be an All-NBA first or second-team player but he is going to score 20 points a game in this league until he’s done in the mid-’30s.”
Lauri Markkanen could take off if Bulls get point guard right
The crazy part is that Markkanen did what he did last year despite ongoing problems with the point guard position for Chicago. It’s not an accident that they drafted White 7th overall and traded for Tomas Satoransky. It is hoped that their arrivals will give the position a much-needed boost. White is capable of opening up the floor with his speed and energy while Satoransky improved his ball distribution last season. If one of them can become the facilitator this offense needs, Markkanen could explode.
His shooting prowess is well-documented. If he can get more clean looks from three-point range, his greatest assets will have been unlocked. To say nothing of his improvement down in the paint. Woj is right to have high expectations this year. It’s Markkanen’s third in the NBA. The intimidation factor of playing in the NBA should be wearing off by now. He knows he can play at this level. It has become a matter of the young man staying on the court and seizing his opportunity.