Magic Markkanen has perhaps hit the proverbial rookie wall. In the last five games, he’s averaged 10.6 points per game but on just 25.4 percent shooting from the field, knocking down 3-point field goals at just a 28.2 percent clip.
Last night against the Phoenix Suns, Markkanen went 3-11 from three and 1-4 from two, with many of the shots that he has missed during this prickly stretch being open looks that he would normally hit. According to NBA.com, he went 4-for-13 on uncontested field goal attempts in this game. And in the past 5 games with these poor shooting numbers, 72.5 percent of the attempts have either been designated “open” or “wide open”.
some open misses from Markkanen last night pic.twitter.com/SXy3VFto4A— BlogABull.com (@BullsBlogger) November 29, 2017
Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg had a similar assessment when he diagnosed Markkanen’s struggles after the Bulls 104-99 loss against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday evening. Per Chicago Tribune writer K.C. Johnson.
“We need him aggressive. He had great looks. They didn’t go down for him. But they will. He’s too good a shooter for him to stay in a slump.”
Chalk up the poor numbers to a lack of assertiveness attacking the basket as well. NBA.com stat tracking also shows Markkanen averaging almost two drives per game less in the last five games than his season average.
In terms of shot volume, Markkanen’s 13.4 field goal attempts per game over the last five games is right on par with the 12.5 field goal attempts he’s averaged across the entire season. So the struggles he’s experienced haven't deterred him from shooting the ball which is a good sign for the rookie.
Markkanen’s recent shooting woes haven’t prevented him from making history either. The 47 3-point field goals he’s drained this season is the highest number for any player ever through 19 career NBA games. According to ESPN.com, the 44 3-point field goals he’s made leads all NBA rookies and is tied for the 21st most in the NBA.
Every rookie experiences adversity. Markkanen has reportedly been under the weather and playing heavy minutes for a debut season, coming off the back of a Eurobasket tournament in the summer. How Markkanen responds to these shooting woes will tell a lot about the Bulls prized rookie.