UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Forward Lauri Markkanen Named Finnish Athlete Of Year

Jan 11, 2024, 2:35 PM

Lauri-Markkanen-Utah-Jazz-NBA...

Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz looks on before an NBA In-Season Tournament game against the Phoenix Suns at Delta Center on November 17, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen has another accolade to add to his list as he was named the Athlete of the Year at the Finnish Sports Gala on Thursday.

Markkanen is the first Finnish basketball player to earn the award.

Since the NBA season is in full swing, Markkanen was unable to attend the Gala but he called in to accept the award.

“I have tried to clear a path and set an example that with passion and practice you can achieve such great things,” Markkanen said. “I respect this award because I know great role models and athletes come from Finland every year.”

Markkanen comes off an impressive 2022-23 campaign which saw him become the first Jazz player to be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.

He averaged 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds and nearly joined the exclusive 50/40/90 club. Markkanen was an All-Star starter and fell just short of making an All-NBA team.

This season, Markkanen had a slow start but has since returned to All-Star form.

In 29 games played, he is averaging 23.6 points and 8.8 rebounds with career-highs in steals and blocks.

Markkanen is the primary reason that the Utah Jazz caught fire in December and won 12 of 16 games.

Markkanen hasn’t been on the All-Star voting returns but if Utah can continue winning, he will likely be an All-Star for the second-straight season.

In addition to his performance in the NBA, Markkanen balled out for Finland in the FIBA World Cup earlier this year.

In five games, Markkanen averaged 24.8 points, 8 rebounds, and a block a game.

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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