Laurie Markkanen To Have Very Unusual Summer For NBA Player

Lauri Markkanen has had a breakthrough season with the Utah Jazz, and is the leading contender for the Most Improved Player Award. But for a star NBA player, his 2023 summer won't be spent in the usual manner. 

As Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reports, Markkanen will be serving in the Finnish Army. 

"It's mandatory, we have to do it, but at the same time we take pride in it, too," the 25-year-old Markkanen told Shelburne. "I think it sets an example to serve. And I'm confident I can do it in a way that it's not going to affect my preparation for next season, either."

The Jazz certainly hope not. All he did this year, his 6th in the NBA, was bump his scoring average up nine points a game, to 25.6 points, to go along with 8.6 rebounds and 39% shooting from beyond the arc. He came to Utah as the key return in the Donovan Mitchell trade. One of those deals that both teams are thrilled with.

As Shelburne reports, Markkanen will serve at the Finnish Defence Forces Sports School in southern Helsinki, where its main task is to "train reconnaissance squads for emergency and wartime conditions."

But he says he should be able to stay in proper shape. "Of course I'd rather be working out like I normally do [in the offseason], but I've heard they do a good job of combining the two. You're able to do your job working as an athlete and your basic training at the same time."

The Jazz still have a remote, outside shot at making the Play-In tournament, as they sit a game-and-a-half out of the 10th spot with four to play.

Photo: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports