Coming out of the University of Arizona, everybody who was paying attention knew that Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen was a dead-eye shooter. Through 12 games, he’s lived up to that billing. He’s tied for the lead among rookies in made 3-point field goal attempts this season (29). Why has that shooting stroke carried over so seamlessly from college to the NBA thus far?
For starters, he’s a 7-footer with a high release point, so he’s going to be taller than almost everybody he matches up against and can simply shoot over people. But as Vice Sports writer Michael Pina details, Markannen combines that with a lightning-quick motion and a fearless shooter’s mentality (no pump fakes, take notes Nikola Mirotic!),
Even more impressive than the rookie’s startling per game averages (14 points and seven rebounds isn’t bad!) is a shot release that’s faster than a snapping rubber band. Only four players in the league are launching more threes per game with a touch time between 0-2 seconds.
Beyond Markkanen’s release is help from teammates. As noted in a previous post, Robin Lopez’s presence on this roster has done wonders for Markkanen’s development. Over at bballbreakdown.com, Nicholas Sciria noted this symbiotic relationship between the Bulls two big men, and how Lopez’s prowess at screen setting has made Markkanen’s job so much easier this season.
Despite playing for an offensively inept team with limited shotmaking ability all around, Lopez is averaging 4.5 screen assists per 36 minutes (one of the best marks in the league). And Lopez’s screening doesn’t just open up Markanenen for chances to catch and shoot, it also gives him the opportunity to put the ball on the floor and attack closeouts.
*As Sciria notes, Markkanen is far from a one-trick pony coming off of screens. His ability to put the ball on the floor and take it all the way to the basket and finish makes defenders wary of closing out too aggressively.
According to NBA.com, Markkanen averages 1.28 points per possession coming off of screens which is in the 91st percentile in the NBA.
Unfortunately, in conjunction with the Chicago Bulls current five-game losing streak, Markkanen’s numbers have begun to level off. In those five games, he’s shot just 27.3 percent from 3-point land (40.7 percent from the field).
However, Markkanen is a unique shooting talent and his shooting profile (quick release, high release point, etc.) should allow him to break out of this shooting slump soon.
*Both the YouTube videos belong to Nicholas Sciria