Prospect Profile: Lauri Markkanen

Leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft, we will be diving into what our Draft Models tell us about this year’s top prospects. Our NBA Draft Models include the PNSP Model, NBA Role Probability Model, and Similarity Scores which each provide unique ways of evaluating college prospects. Our Prospect Profiles look at which stats positively/negatively affect NBA projections, unique data points from a player’s stats, and relevant comparisons to current NBA players. You can find links to all of our Prospect Profiles in the header menu above (NBA –> NBA Draft –> Prospect Profiles). In this article, we look at Finnish-born Arizona product Lauri Markkanen.

Lauri Markkanen | PF/C | Arizona | Freshman

Draft Express #7 | Model 284 PNSP #11
Physical Measurements: 7’0″ | 225lbs
Top Player Comps: Mike Miller, Ben Bentil, Tyler Lydon

School Age PTS/40 TRB/40 AST/40 STL/40 BLK/40
Arizona 20.1 20.2 9.3 1.1 0.5 0.7
Model 284
PNSP All-Star % Starter % Bench % Non-NBA %
81.7  8.0%  34.4%  41.0%  16.6%

Lauri Markkanen hails from the Scandinavian country of Finland and stands 7’0″, oh and he shot over 40% from 3 on 163 attempts. Additionally, Markkanen was an 83.5% free throw shooter on 164 attempts in his one season at Arizona. Below lists the players that stand roughly 7’0″ tall, shot over 40% from 3, and made more than 20 3s in their final season of college basketball:

Player Height w/ Shoes 3P% 3PM
Nick Fazekas 7’0″ 43.1% 28
Alec Brown 7’1.75″ 42.0% 42
Frank Kaminsky 7’0.75″ 41.6% 42
Lauri Markkanen  7’0″ 42.3% 69

While this is already a relatively small group of players, Markkanen is the only one in the group to make over 50 3s. Additionally, Markkanen is the only Freshmen seven-footer to post these numbers in our database. To further capture Markkanen’s unique shooting ability, below is a list of players 6’10” or taller with a free throw shooting percentage greater than 80% and more than 100 free throws made in their last college season:

Player Height w/ Shoes FT% FTM
Michael Doleac 6’11” 80.5% 173
Hanno Mottola 6’11” 82.7% 105
Loren Woods 7’1.75″ 83.0% 117
Paul Davis 6’11” 87.0% 160
Nick Fazekas 7’0″ 84.8% 128
Ryan Anderson 6’10” 86.9% 173
Jon Leuer 6’11.5″ 84.3% 113
Tyler Zeller 7’0.5″ 80.8% 181
Karl-Anthony Towns 7’0″ 81.3% 109
Lauri Markkanen 7’0″ 83.5% 137

Some of the players on this list have developed into good, if not great, 3-point shooters (Ryan Anderson, Jon Leuer, and Karl-Anthony Towns), yet still do not compare to Markkanen in terms of the ability to come off screens and knock down 3-pointers at an exceptionally high rate. For further perspective on how Lauri Markkanen might translate to the NBA, see his top 10 player comparables below:
Interestingly, most of these players are under 6’10” and fit the mold of a wing player, rather than a big man. By our Similarity Score algorithm, Lauri Markkanen classifies as a wing player and not a big man, which is surprising given his 7’0″ tall frame. Markkanen does have some comps that are not shooters (e.g., Luol Deng, Justise Winslow, etc.), but this can be explained by the weighted importance of statistics for Wing-classified players in our algorithm. The most heavily weighted college statistics in predicting NBA similarities for wings are rebounds, 3-pointers made, size (wingspan and weight), and 2-point percentage. None of these statistics are great measures of defensive abilities. Honestly, I am not sure what it means when a player you expect to use at the 4 or 5 projects similarly to players that play mostly the 3.

Markkanen receives a strong PNSP rating of 81.7 (ranking 11th in the draft class), but a low All-Star probability at just 8.0% (ranking 34th in the draft class). Here is a list of players with a PNSP above 80 and an All-Star probability below 10%:

Player All-Star% PNSP
Nate Robinson 8.7% 82.5
Francisco Garcia 6.3% 91.5
Rudy Gay 4.8% 86.9
Jason Smith 7.3% 86.0
Brook Lopez 5.2% 91.8
Lester Hudson 7.9% 85.0
Hassan Whiteside 4.8% 82.1
Klay Thompson 2.6% 85.2
Iman Shumpert 6.7% 87.9
Grant Jerrett 1.5% 82.5
Lamar Patterson 5.3% 82.2
Lauri Markkanen 8.0% 81.7

No true superstars make this list, but some have become very good players (e.g., Klay Thompson and Hassan Whiteside). Given scouting consensus, it isn’t surprising that our Models see a solid starting role out of Markkanen, rather than superstar potential. Again similar to scouting consensus, by PNSP Markkanen projects as an elite 3-point shooter. In fact, he projects as the best 3-point shooting big man in our database by a wide margin. Markkanen’s high PNSP score is driven entirely by his insanely high 3-point shooting projection, which is important to note because PNSP also projects Markkanen below-average in every other box score statistic (although, I do believe his passing is better than the numbers showed). Also, Markkanen’s fairly low bustability (16.6%) is once again driven by his incredible shooting at his position. The minute Markkanen enters the league, he likely becomes the best shooting PF/C. With that in mind, a smart coach should be able to make good use of Markkanen’s skill set even though he will be somewhat limited.

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