With the Dallas Mavericks set for a first round pick in the late lottery and the NCAA Tournament about to get underway, a player to watch is Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen.
The Dallas Mavericks currently sit with a 28-38 record in the Western Conference where they are trying to hold on to a chance as the 8th seed in the playoffs. No matter if the playoff push is successful or not, the Mavericks are looking at a first round pick towards the end of the lottery in the 2017 NBA Draft.
This week, the NCAA Tournament gets underway and this will give fans a chance to watch some prospects that will hear their name called this summer at the draft.
For Mavs fans, this will give them the chance to watch Lauri Markkanen.
Based off where Markkanen is being projected in many mock drafts, the chances of him slipping to the late lottery are slim. But if Dallas did land a pick around the 6-8 range, giving Markkanen a consideration might be a possibility.
Lauri Markkanen is a seven-foot sniper from Finland who plays for the Arizona Wildcats. Standing at 7’0″ and 225 pounds, Markkanen led Arizona to a 30-4 record where they won the PAC-12 Tournament and landed a two seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Markkanen appeared in 34 games for the Wildcats where he averaged more than 15 points and 7 rebounds a game. Known as a lethal threat from the outside, Markkanen averaged almost five threes a game and shot over 43% from behind the arc.
Draft Express has Markkanen has the 7th best prospect in their latest Top 100. They had this to say in their profile.
"“His shot-preparation, body control and range are almost unheard of for a player his size, and the fact that he is a threat in spot-up situations, pick and pops, and dribble hand-offs helps keep the floor spaced perfectly for Arizona and gives his guards plenty of room to operate in the half-court. With the added spacing of the more distant NBA 3-point line, its not a stretch to wonder how much more room Markkanen will have to get clean looks. – Source: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Lauri-Markkanen-73519/ ©DraftExpress”"
"“Markkanen has a lot of fans among NBA scouts who see him as an ideal stretch-4 in the league. He’s big and mobile at 7 feet, 230 pounds and can really, really stroke it from deep.” -Ford"
The biggest strength of Markkanen’s game is obviously his shooting stroke. By the year’s end, Markkanen could have his name in the record books for shooting statistics as a seven footer. His threat on the offensive end in the pick and roll is something that could translate to the NBA today.
Normally, seven-foot shooters are known as guys who simply shoot set shots. Markkanen is not that. He can put the ball on the court and drive at times when the defense closes out on him. His athleticism is also underrated on both ends of the floor.
Markkanen had one of his better performances of the season in the PAC-12 tournament against Lonzo Ball and UCLA. Markkanen put up 29 points and six rebounds in the win while displaying his full arsenal.
If Markkanen has a weakness offensively, it is his post up game down low. Although it isn’t horrible, Markkanen doesn’t have a plethora of post moves on the block at the moment. As a seven footer, he also needs to improve on the boards, especially if he goes into the league as a stretch five.
Defensively, Markkanen will have improve as a paint protector and low post defender.
Fit in Dallas
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Dallas made the trade for Nerlens Noel and look to make him their franchise center this summer. After Noel, things get interesting in the front court for the future.
Dirk Nowitzki is set to play in his last season next year while the 2017-18 season of Salah Mejri’s contract is non-guaranteed. Then there is Dwight Powell and second round project, A.J. Hammons.
If Dallas is sitting with the 8th overall pick and the top four overall point guards are already gone, picking Markkanen would be a smart pick. The kid has already (although unfairly) drawn comparisons to a young Dirk Nowitzki, so why not let him learn directly underneath him?
The expectations would be unfair, but Dallas has the veterans, system and staff to make Markkanen a weapon in this league for a long time.
Either way, Markkanen will hear his name called in the lottery this summer and fans should watch him in the NCAA Tournament.
Markkanen and Arizona play North Dakota on Thursday, March 16th.