It was completely fair to pre-judge Lauri Markkanen cynically, if only because the guys who took him haven’t been good at taking good players. Personally I didn’t have much of an opinion as I skip out on draft analysis but it was definitely early consensus here that the Bulls screwed up.
But Markkanen has been fantastic, and while maybe it’s a result of the Bulls NOT doing their job, it’s still worth re-evaluating the evaluation.
Getting out in front is The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor:
If it weren’t for Ben Simmons, Markkanen would be the Rookie of the Year so far. Everyone knew Lauri could stroke 3s and score off the bounce with step-backs and pull-ups. But the fact that his offense has translated so soon—especially against quality defenders—is encouraging.
In The Ringer’s 2017 NBA Draft Guide, Lauri’s player comparisons were Dirk Nowitzki, Ryan Anderson, and Channing Frye. It’s already clear that he’s going to be better than Frye, and Anderson is now a low-end outcome. The question now is how high he can reach as an offensive threat.
O’Connor has retroactively improved the all-important Bulls draft-night grade from ‘F+’ to ‘C‘. While noting that Lauri has still room to improve in playmaking, contested rebounding, and defense, “what matters is Markkanen’s offense” and it’s been so good it can make one re-think things.