Prospect Watch: Lauri Markkanen

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 21: Lauri Markkanen #10 of the Arizona Wildcats dunks the ball during the second half of the NCAA college basketball game against the Northern Colorado Bears at McKale Center on November 21, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats beat the Bears 71-55. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The San Antonio Spurs are finally picking up some wins at home and that should have fans optimistic for another playoff run and thus, a pick outside of the lottery in the upcoming NBA Draft. There are plenty of great choices for players outside the top 14 picks in what is promising to be an incredibly deep draft.

This week’s draft prospect is Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona. The 7’0”, 230-pound freshman has already shown off his high ceiling in only four games averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He’s also shown that he has range shooting about 37 percent from downtown and it’s not just taking a few shots and hitting a lot. He takes four triples a game and is a solid back-to-the-basket player as well.

He has the potential to be a smoother and more fluid Pau Gasol if you’re looking for a current player comparison. He is more athletic though and has been highly efficient this year as he shoots 55.6 percent from the field and a ridiculous 95 percent from the charity stripe (22-of-23 on the young season). Markkanen also takes care of the ball in the post as he averaged less than a turnover a game.

He’s not doing this on just garbage plays and putbacks either as he has a 21 percent usage rate, meaning he uses up about a fifth of the team’s plays while he’s on the court. The Finnish product has the potential to be scary good and has a defensive rating of just under 91 while recording an insane offensive rating of almost 148 (the median NBA team has as about a 106 rating).

If you can stay up for “Pac 12 After Dark” then this kid will definitely be worth watching as his draft position is mocked all over the place. Some people have him playing his way into the lottery while others still have him low in the first round around picks 25-30 right now. Whether he becomes available to the Spurs or not, he is absolutely worth watching.

Photo: Arizona Desert Swarm


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