Lauri Markkanen: Situation vs. Talent

Photo Courtesy: @ChicagoBulls/Twitter

Author: Adam Klaus

Lauri Markkanen is having an incredible rookie campaign for the Chicago Bulls. He just eclipsed 100 three-pointers made in the fewest amount of games while shooting at 37% from behind the arc and is averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game. With these incredible stats, I have been asking myself repeatedly what has made Lauri Markkanen so successful compared to other top talents.

I would argue the Bulls’ situation and their willingness to let Lauri Markkanen shine has allowed him to put up strong numbers. It is no secret that the Bulls are not playing for a championship this year, nor has that ever been in the cards. That means young guys and recent draft picks really have an opportunity to shine. Enter Lauri Markkanen, the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. For an NBA rookie, Markkanen got drafted into a situation where he can determine his own destiny and his ability can be put on display. With the Bulls losing their top scoring threats from the year before in Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade, new guys would have to step up this year to score.

With NBA teams averaging 90+ points per game, regardless of the talent on the team, someone will have to score. My point being, at some point if a team is so depleted with talent, players will look better than they are just because they are getting the opportunity to play. This is where young NBA players begin to differentiate themselves and more importantly determine the direction of their NBA career. The experience difference between playing real NBA minutes versus sitting on the bench is gigantic. This is where the transformation from NBA draft pick to NBA player begins and that is the opportunity Lauri Markkanen is getting right now.

A great example of situation being crucial is Philadelphia 76ers point guard TJ McConnell. McConnell was an undrafted free agent who was then picked up by the 76ers out of necessity.

With injuries and lack of solid point guards on the team, McConnell became a trusted player and transformed into an NBA point guard. Now McConnell is by no means a superstar, but he is an incredibly solid back up point guard and will continue to be around in the NBA. Looking at the talent in this year’s draft class, there will be tons of players that have a higher ceiling and are better than McConnell, but without some good play and luck in the situation you get put into, any talented player can find himself in the D-League or Europe.

This does not discredit the work and performance of Markkanen or McConnell, but it does explain a lot how some players succeed, and others do not. Fortunately for Markkanen, he is getting all the chances a rookie could ask for and the Bulls are getting a player they can depend on for the future.