Rick Carlisle: Jazz Markkanen ‘Closet Thing’ To Nowitzki

Jan 15, 2024, 6:32 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm

Utah Jazz Memphis Grizzlies Lauri Markkanen...

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) calls for a foul after sinking a 3 during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Photo courtesy of Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was complimentary of Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, comparing the Finnish forward to Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki.

As the Jazz and Pacers prepared to face one another, Carlisle shared his thoughts on the newly minted Western Conference Player of the Week.

“He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to Nowitzki,” Carlise offered of Markkanen.

It’s a major compliment coming from the coach who worked with Nowtizki after developing into one of the league’s greatest superstars over their 11 years together in Dallas.

Carlisle On Nowitzki, Markkanen

While Nowitzki hit his All-Star stride much earlier in his career than Markkanen, Carlisle recognized the Jazz forward’s potential when he worked out for the Mavericks ahead of the 2017 NBA Draft.

“We had the ninth pick, we were hoping for some way he would have fallen to us that night,” Carlisle remembered, “but after we worked him out it was pretty clear to me it was unlikely to happen. Athletically he tested much better than expected — much more powerful.”

Markkanen was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the seventh pick before being traded to the Chicago Bulls for Jimmy Butler on draft night. The Mavericks wound up selecting Dennis Smith Jr. two picks later.

After an up-and-down stretch in Chicago, Markkanen was traded to Cleveland where coach JB Bickerstaff opted to move the fifth-year big man to small forward, a move Carlisle credited with unlocking his potential.

“When you start at the three as a 6-foot-11 — seven-foot guy, and now you’re guarding the smaller quicker guys and stuff like that, you learn more things about the game,” Carlise said. “I think all those things, all those experiences in Chicago and Cleveland really set him up for explosion here in Utah.”

Markkanen is averaging 23.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 39 percent from the three-point line.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz


Kyle Ireland

Lauri Markkanen Ruled Out For Wizards-Jazz Game

Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen landed on the team's injury report and was ruled out for Utah's game against the Washington Wizards.

5 hours ago


The Associated Press

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark Passes Pete Maravich As All-Time NCAA Division I Scorer

Caitlin Clark of Iowa passes the late Pete Maravich as the all-time NCAA Division I scorer with her 3,668th point.

10 hours ago

Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George...

Ben Anderson

Keyonte George Scores 31 In Jazz Loss To Heat

The Utah Jazz fell to 0-3 on their Eastern Conference road trip with a loss to the Miami Heat despite 31 points from rookie Keyonte George.

1 day ago


Ben Anderson

Jazz Drop Third Straight With Loss To Heat

The Utah Jazz went winless on their three-game Eastern Conference road trip after losing to the Miami Heat 126-120.

1 day ago


Kyle Ireland

Keyonte George Hits Sixth Three-Pointer During Jazz-Heat Game

Keyonte George continued his hot shooting in the second half by knocking down his sixth three-pointer of Utah's game against the Miami Heat.

1 day ago


Kyle Ireland

Jazz Rookie Keyonte George Knocks Down Three In Face Of Heat Defender

Jazz guard Keyonte George buried a deep three-pointer in the face of a defender during Utah's game against the Miami Heat.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Rick Carlisle: Jazz Markkanen ‘Closet Thing’ To Nowitzki