UTAH JAZZ

Markkanen, Sexton Take Center Stage At Jazz Media Day

Sep 26, 2022, 5:35 PM

Lauri-Markkanen-Utah-Jazz...

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen at media day (Deseret News: Scott G. Winterton)

(Deseret News: Scott G. Winterton)

SALT LAKE CITY – Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton are the new faces of the Utah Jazz, and both players had to assume their new roles on Monday’s media day.

Both players were acquired in the Donovan Mitchell trade in early September, and join the Jazz with high expectations from the fanbase.

Though few believe the Jazz are going to compete for the playoffs, Markkanen, 25, and Sexton, 23, fit the age range, and have the talent to lead to the rebuilding team for the next several seasons.

The two new members of the team discussed their trade to Utah and what roles they expect to fill with the Jazz.

Sexton Needs To Be Uniter

There is little doubt about Sexton’s ability to get buckets after averaging 24 points per game in just his third season in the NBA.

But his biggest strength may also be his biggest weakness. The knock on Sexton has been his shooting guard mentality and point guard body type, too often looking for his own offense, and not finding his teammates.

Now in Utah, he’s looking to change that reputation.

“I know I can score the ball,” Sexton said, “but also just making sure that I can get my teammates involved as well.”

Sexton averaged 4.4 assists during his last healthy season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a strong jump from the 3.0 assists he averaged in his rookie and sophomore seasons.

For Sexton to make the next leap in his young career, he’ll have to balance his role as a playmaker in the Jazz backcourt, and as the go-to scorer.

“I’m going to be out there making plays for everybody but also making plays for myself and just doing whatever the team needs,” Sexton said.

Markkanen Confident In His Own Abilities

Markkanen may not have quite the same weight on his shoulders as Sexton with the Jazz, but he’ll carry a heavy load nonetheless.

The Finnish forward is coming off a breakout performance at EuroBasket where he concluded the tournament as the second-leading scorer at an impressive 27.9 points per game.

“I feel confident and I think that that showed the way I can play basketball,” Markkanen said at media day.

It’s easy to forget that Markkanen appeared destined for stardom after his second season with the Chicago Bulls. The forward averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds as a 21-year-old but missed the final seven games of the Bulls season after experiencing fatigue and a rapid heartbeat late in the year.

In his third year, Markkanen would be sidelined for nearly six weeks with a hip injury shortly before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a strong summer at EuroBasket, Markkanen is looking to continue his strong play with the Jazz.

“I didn’t surprise myself, I knew I could do this stuff,” the forward said. “But I think now it’s time to try to bring it over here and keep going — keep that good momentum going.”

That good momentum will require Markkanen to stay healthy in Utah. The forward played 68 games during his rookie season with the Bulls but has failed to appear in more than 61 games in any of his four seasons since.

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Markkanen, Sexton Take Center Stage At Jazz Media Day