ESPN: Markkanen’s success with Jazz Mirrors FIBA
SALT LAKE CITY – Lauri Markkanen is off to the best start of his career in his first season with the Utah Jazz, and ESPN credits his success to the FIBA EuroBasket Tournament.
In an article on ESPN, Ramona Shelburne explored Markkanen’s impressive performance at Utah.
“What really showed Markkanen’s potential was how he was used by the Finnish national team this summer in the EuroBasket Championships,” Shelburne wrote.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) November 15, 2022
The Finnish star averaged 28 points and eight rebounds during the tournament, including a 43-point outing in an upset against Croatia.
“His skill set is so wide it’s hard to put him in a box,” Finland captain Shawn Huff told ESPN. “It kind of gives him more freedom when he can do anything: run, pick and roll, set picks, get off screens, put down screens.”
The Jazz mirrored some of Finland’s actions with Markkanen playing a prominent role in the team’s attack.
“For us, he is all those [roles]jazz coach Will Hardy told ESPN. “It’s like, why would we try to categorize it into just one thing?”
Markkanen always showed flashes of star potential, but a lack of consistency during stops in Chicago and Cleveland kept him from breaking through as one of the NBA’s best players.
This season, the Jazz striker partly credited a sports psychologist for his improved game.
“I’ve always been a bit too thoughtful,” Markkanen told ESPN. “Like, I was missing shots. If they felt good but they didn’t come in, I would come down. But then, at some point, I remember it just clicked. Like, ‘Who cares if I miss?’
Markkanen is averaging 21.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 15 games with the Jazz.
Half Court Hoops Breaks Down Jazz’s Offense
Speaking of Markkanen, the popular YouTube channel “Half Court Hoops” ended the Jazz offense after their 10-5 start to the season.
Gibson Pyper ran through the Jazz’s five-out offense and how Hardy used wide-spacers on the ground like Markkanen and Olynyk to create open shots.
The Jazz are using less pick-and-roll than in past seasons after trading Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and are instead relying on cuts at rim and pindown screens to force defenses to scramble.
Hardy and the Jazz currently hold the fifth-best offensive rating in the NBA and attempt the fourth-most threes.