The Bulls wanted Lauri Markkanen to add strength this summer, not only to help his performance on the court but to help keep him on the court. The big man dealt with nagging back problems throughout his rookie campaign, and Fred Hoiberg even said toward the end of last season that the No. 1 thing Markkanen needed to work on in the offseason was his body.
Markkanen has put in that work.
Earlier this summer, Markkanen posted this picture of himself on Twitter that had him looking rather swole:
Back with the Pack!! #Susijengi pic.twitter.com/e2KqgC4wf6— Lauri Markkanen (@MarkkanenLauri) June 20, 2018
ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently discussed how the Bulls wanted Markkanen to bulk up to play more center, and the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson confirmed that the team envisions its prized Finnish stud anchoring smaller lineups in the middle.
Johnson talked with Markkanen about his offseason work, and the 21-year-old revealed just how much weight he has put on:
“Everybody has been saying I’m bigger, but I don’t know about all that,” Markkanen told the Tribune this week. “I just know I feel good.
“I’ve put on about 14 pounds. In general, I feel stronger. Hopefully, I can keep this weight up and play with it because I feel it will help my game.”
This is obviously all great to hear, and hopefully the increased strength allows Markkanen to consistently punish mismatches down low and withstand the pounding on the other end.
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Markkanen’s development, though the Bulls’ offseason moves raises some questions about where he’ll fit in the offensive hierarchy. He struggled to find a rhythm playing with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine last year, and now Jabari Parker and Wendell Carter Jr. are in the mix. Carter should be a rather seamless fit next to Markkanen, but the addition of Parker will be a bit more tricky.
Naturally, Markkanen isn’t concerned:
“We’re not worried about it at all,” Markkanen said. “We’re just trying to win. I know when we play the right way, everybody is going to get their shots. If someone is having a bad game, we have a lot of different guys we can go to.”
Let’s hope Markkanen does get his shots, because he should be in for a big season.