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Lauri Markkanen — The Finish Sensation

Life is a basketball game and the world is his basketball court. I am talking about the latest Finish sensation Lauri Markkanen. He is just 20 years old and is 7 feet, every kid who plays ball dreams of this. Born to Pekka and Riikka Markkanen who happen to be basketball players (what more can you ask for) grew up in Jyväskylä. He played junior ball with HoNsU.

His international basketball career started with his international debut with the Finnish U-16 team and under 18 national team. At the 2015 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. Markkanen averaged 18.2 points per game to lead the FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship in the summer of 2015. He was the top scorer in 2016 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship tournament with an average of 24.9 points per game

On October 17, 2015, Markkanen verbally committed to NCAA Division I squad Arizona Wildcats prior to the 2016–17 season. Lauri signed a letter to intent to Arizona on Nov. 11th. ESPN.com reported that the seven-foot Finn is considered "a possible one-and-done candidate for the NBA draft. In January 2017, SB Nation regarded him as "the best shooting 7-footer college basketball has ever seen”. Within the same month, Markkanen was selected as Pac-12 Player of the Week and has won a host of awards. This 1 year run at Arizona will be handy for him in the NBA and helped the scouts analyze whether he can manage the rigors of the NBA game to a certain extent.

He recorded a career-high 30 points, 12 field goals made & 18 shot attempts on Jan. 12th against rival Arizona State. Also recording a career-high 13 rebounds 3 times against Northern Colorado (11/21/17), Washington State (1/26/17) & Washington (2/18/17). His career-high 3 blocks came against ASU in the regular-season finale Mar. 4th, 2017.

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At the conclusion of his freshman season, Markkanen announced his intention to forgo his final three years of collegiate eligibility and enter the 2017 NBA draft. Where he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves but then traded to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler and other players. He was selected 7th overall by the Wolves.

At the recently concluded FIBA Europe 2017 he rubbed shoulders with the best players in Europe and has averaged 19.5 points 5.7 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game not bad for a 20-year-old. Helped Finland beat a strong French team led by Rudy Gobert, Greece and other big names, as a result, Finland finished second in Group A. Their dream run came to an end when they met Italy in the quarterfinals.

The comparisons have already started between Markhanen and the future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and Gasol brothers’ arguably the top big men in Europe. After watching him at the FIBA Europe he must have settled all doubts on whether he can play with the big guys, with all due respect to other leagues the FIBA Europe 2017 championship’s definitely a tough tournament to play in with a host of NBA players and the quality of basketball is at the highest barring the NBA. The fact that Pop was there watching it from the sidelines is more than enough.

I am sure he will have a great rookie season with the Bulls a long shot for rookie of the year as this will be a tight race between Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith Jr, and Markelle Fultz. Freid Hoieberg has his hands full as he has a new Bulls team and getting them back to being competitive will be a tough task. But this task has just gotten easier with Lauri Markkanen .

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