Finland’s Lauri Markkanen caught an inbound pass and hoisted up a three-point shot from the corner with seconds to go in a three-point game against Slovenia that missed.
After swishing shot after shot for 80 minutes of play, including coming up in the clutch just three days before to beat France, that was a shock. It was a disheartening end for a Finnish team that isn’t used to being competitive against teams like Slovenia, which sports top talents like Goran Dragic and 18-year-old Luka Doncic.
But Markkanen’s been incredible in his first three games at Eurobasket 2017, and has consequently become a can’t-miss talent on ESPN3.
Bulls fans are disappointed by the haul they received in June’s Jimmy Butler trade.
That’s fair, as the Timberwolves just gave up an injured Zach La Vine, Kris Dunn and the pick that became Markkanen.
But the 20-year-old has proven to be an unreal scorer so far. Through three games, he’s dropped 73 points on 27-of-48 shooting, and grabbed 23 boards.
He’s made 7-of-13 from deep, and not all of those have come uncontested. He’s been working an inside-out game we didn’t see all that much of at Arizona last season.
Markkanen’s jumper has always been pure, but at Eurobasket, he’s shown he can put his seven-foot height and incredible length to use in the post.
He’s used hook shots off the catch down low, and also blown by defenders off the dribble. What does Markkanen mean for Finland’s national team? As a host in this year’s Eurobasket, Finnish fans have a chance to see their budding star grow before their eyes as he hits shot after shot.
Markkanen scored 14 PTS in the last 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 He’s no Kristaps Porzingis putting the ball on the ground just yet, but with some development, maybe he can become more than a one-dimensional shooter. The win over France was huge, and they nearly raked in another against Slovenia. The last time the Finnish national basketball team was in the news was in 2014 under much different circumstances.
An essential bribe to no fault of their own allowed the team a wild card spot into the FIBA World Cup despite its much inferior ranks compared to other prospective choices.
With Markkanen at the helm, Finland’s competitiveness is no longer in question.