ESPN: Markkanen Success With Jazz Mirrors FIBA

Nov 15, 2022, 2:33 PM | Updated: 2:34 pm
Lauri Markkanen defended by Donovan Mitchell (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Lauri Markkanen is off to a career-best start in his first season with the Utah Jazz, and ESPN is crediting the FIBA EuroBasket Tournament for his success.

In an article at ESPN, Ramona Shelburne explored Markkanen’s impressive performance in Utah.

“What really showcased Markkanen’s potential was how he was used by the Finnish national team this summer at the EuroBasket championships,” Shelburne wrote.

The Finnish star averaged 28 points and eight rebounds during the tournament, including a 43-point outing in an upset over Croatia.

“His skill range is so wide that it’s hard to put him in a box,” Finnish captain Shawn Huff told ESPN. “It kind of gives him more freedom when he can do whatever: run, pick-and-roll, set the picks, come off screens, set down screens.”

The Jazz have mirrored some of Finland’s actions with Markkanen taking a starring role in the team’s offense.

“For us, he’s all of those [roles],” Jazz coach Will Hardy told ESPN. “It’s like, why would we try to pigeonhole him into one thing?”

Markkanen has always shown flashes of star potential, but a lack of consistency during stops in Chicago and Cleveland have prevented him from breaking through as one of the NBA’s premier players.

This season, the Jazz forward credited a sports psychologist in part for his improved play.

“I’ve always been a bit of an overthinker,” Markkanen told ESPN. “Like, I was missing shots. If they felt good but they weren’t going in, I’d get down. But then at some point I remember it just clicked. Like, ‘Who cares if I miss?’

Markkanen is averaging 21.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 15 games with the Jazz.

Half Court Hoops Breaks Down Jazz Offense

Speaking of Markkanen, the popular YouTube channel “Half Court Hoops” broke down the Jazz offense after their 10-5 start to the season.

Gibson Pyper walked through the Jazz five-out offense, and how Hardy has used floor spacing bigs like Markkanen and Olynyk to create open shots.

The Jazz use less pick-and-roll than in seasons past after trading Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and instead rely more on cuts to the rim and pindown screens to force defenses to scramble.

Hardy and the Jazz currently own the fifth-best offensive rating in the NBA and attempt the fourth-most threes.

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ESPN: Markkanen Success With Jazz Mirrors FIBA