In his first game for team Finland in this year’s Eurobasket, Lauri Markkanen shined. Despite coming off the bench, the Bulls rookie made a huge impact for his home country against a good France team. It was a slow start for Markkanen, but it all changed in the second half. He caught fire from the field and was the go-to guy for the Fins the rest of the way, including an overtime period where we helped his country cap off a massive upset.
Markkanen finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds while knocking down two triples in the process. Despite the small output from three, Markkanen shot a good percentage (60%) from the field overall. While we know Markkanen mainly as a three-point shooter, he showed a lot of other potential offensive moves in this game.
(Thanks to Mike Schmitz of ESPN for the video)
Markkanen scored 14 PTS in the last 3:35 of regulation + OT via jump hook, tip dunk, lefty finish, two spot 3s & a 2-dribble pull up going L pic.twitter.com/va4x1WWZOw— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) August 31, 2017
(0:18) Here Team France is slow getting back on defense, which allows Markkanen to set up near the free-throw line. Once Markkanen receives the ball, he does a good job at not wasting any time attacking his defender. Quickly turning to his right, Markkanen is able to catch his man off guard and score at the rim with his left hand with ease. Scoring in the post is a weakness for Markkanen coming into the NBA, mainly due to his lack of strength. If he can improve in this area, it can allow Fred Hoiberg to draw up more plays for Markkanen all over the court, not just at the three-point line. It will also force defenses to re-think how they will guard him. Although this against isn’t exactly NBA level talent, it was nice to see him at least take advantage of the opportunity to score in the post when presented itself. He also showed his ability to step back a bit and shoot well from the mid-range.
(0:25)This was a play Finland ran a lot in the final stretches of regulation and OT. It would involved Markkanen and a guard sitting in the left corner. Markkanen would come down and essentially set a “screen” on the guard’s defender and then pop out to the three-point line. In this possession, Markkanen wasn’t able to get open but was able to force France to switch and found himself being guarded by Nando De Colo. Knowing he had an advantage, you can see in the video Markkanen is clapping his hands asking for the ball. Again, once he receives the ball and he attacks quickly. He beats De Colo off the dribble by doing a fake move to his right and then goes the opposite way. Once he gets to the spot he wants Markkanen does a good job of stopping on a dime and sliding to his left, allowing De Colo to go right by him. The side jump by Markkanen also throws off France’s big man, who stepped up on help defense. With enough space, Markkanen rises up and calmly knocks down a clutch mid-range jumper.
This could be a useful skill for Markkanen to develop as he can keep defenders off balance with his ability to hit pull-up jumpers. Defenses 100% know he is a three-point threat, and will be sticking on him when he catches the ball around that area. Being able to beat guys off the dribble will force defenders to rotate over and could open up scoring chances for his Bulls teammates. Having a consistent pull-up jumper will keep the defenses honest whenever he comes into the lane or beats his man off the dribble. This may also provide to be useful in isolation scenarios. Markkanen won’t always be coming off a screen to receive the ball and have space to shot right off the bat. He’ll have to work to get open space, especially against stretch four defenders. Solidifying the mid-range game in addition to his outside shooting, would be very beneficial for him. It will be something to look for when the regular season rolls around.
Obviously this is just one game, but Markkanen showed some positive signs and ultimately was the key man in a Finnish comeback to beat a favorite like France. He played solid defense, and flashed some signs of being a versatile offensive player for the Bulls this season.