Lauri Markkanen Key Player in Jazz Start to the Season

Lauri Markkanen was drafted seventh overall in 2017 by the Minnesota Timberwolves and was immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls. In four seasons with the Bulls, he was emerging as a bright young star averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds a game. However, he was traded in 2021 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team deal. The seven-foot Finnish player would see his numbers go down and was not fitting in with the team's long-term goals. Then, in a blockbuster trade, Markkanen was dealt to the Utah Jazz amongst other players for All-Star Donovan Mitchell. So far, the fit looks amazing and Markkanen is proving to be a key player for the Jazz and their 2-0 start.

Although it is early to tell how well the season will go for the Jazz, no one saw this type of beginning. In the first game of the season, they faced the Denver Nuggets who are expected to be a top team in the West. They defeated them convincingly 123-103. Markkanen had a stat line of 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in that game. 

In the next matchup, the Jazz faced the Minnesota Timberwolves in an away game and managed to make a comeback and win it in overtime. In that game, Markkanen posted a 24-point, 13-rebound and 5-assist game. The highlight of that game was when he posterized former Jazz player Rudy Gobert.
Clearly, the numbers for the seven-footer are encouraging to see for Jazz fans. After giving up what seemed like their franchise players, they were among teams that could be going for the Wembanyama sweepstakes this season. So far, that is far from the truth. 
The team seems to be playing to win and Markkanen is a big reason why. In the two games, he has posted averages of nearly 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists a game on 46% shooting. All averages are in the top three for the team, while leading the Jazz in points. 

Markkanen is unlocking the potential that fans were seeing in him in Chicago. Now, he looks like a player destined to make his first All-Star appearance. The Jazz look to remain undefeated on Sunday when they face the 2-0 Pelicans in New Orleans. 

Photo Credit Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports