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NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen’s sharp shooting could be the scoring threat the Hornets are looking for.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Arizona vs Saint Mary's Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

About a month ago fellow At The Hive contributor, David B. Walker, did a little bit of “myth busting” in regards to past lottery picks by the Hornets. There are supposedly three myths about said picks.

  • Myth 1: The Hornets always draft a player who had a good NCAA Tournament.
  • Myth 2: The Hornets always draft a big, tall white guy.
  • Myth 3: The Hornets always draft players from the University of North Carolina.

Fast forward to today — the NBA regular season is over and we’re now staring the NBA draft straight in between the eyes. All of Charlotte is asking who exactly will be available at the 11th pick when The Buzz are on the clock? Who will slip? Who is white and tall?

Today, we zero in on the Finnish, 7-foot power forward, by way of The University of Arizona, Lauri Markkanen.

Markkanen, a Caucasian male, lead his team to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament this past collegiate season where they fell to 11 seeded Xavier. While that’s not THAT successful, we do respect his efforts, giving him two of three myths.

Which means, yes folks. It is happening once more. The stars have aligned.

We have found our snowflake.

All jokes aside, Markkanen had an impressive Freshman campaign, averaging 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Markkanen is known for his dead-eye sharp shooting from behind the arch, which is where the bulk of his scoring came from last season. Markkanen may very well be the best pure shooter in this draft class, which is saying a lot for a big fella.

His ability to spot up and shoot the 3-ball and play off the pick and pop creates a very versatile option for offense and can be hectic for a defense.

Just imagine, two Frank Kaminsky’s, but one of them is European. Sounds great, right?

Some say that Markkanen has as high a ceiling as fellow Euro big man, Dirk Nowitzki. That’s high praise, really high praise (I know, that’s what they say about every white big man who has a decent looking jump shot).

Honestly, I tried really hard to think of someone who wasn’t either white, European, or both that he’s comparable too. And, I got absolutely nothing. So we’ll live with the Dirk and Kristaps Porzingis comparisons until further notice.

In his prime I would hope for at the least what Kristaps is now. I mean just look at this.

Markkanen hits jump shot against Sam Houston University
Kristaps Porziņģis hits jump shot against the Utah Jazz

This is great! They’re the same guy!! Now we can throw away and delete any “Kristaps is upset, here’s why the Hornets should make a move” articles right now. Because little did we know, he has a clone.

Now, to go along with his spot up shooting and pick and pop ability, Markkanen also displayed his athleticism on offense with his ability to attack the basket for second chance opportunities and on defense with his ability to close out onto the perimeter.

Where he struggles, however, is on the low block against bigger big men. He’s also not that sound of a rebounder which could hurt him early in his career, but that is something that can be improved if he’s willing and with the right coaching.

As far as his fit on the Hornets roster goes. We all know this to be true — Kemba Walker needs some damn help. Specifically, someone who can put the ball in the hoop on a consistent basis.

Picking Markkanen could, hypothetically, help in that sense. But the player type would be just a tad bit redundant. We already have Kaminsky and Marvin Williams. Both play that same stretch big role, and Marvin plays better defense than both. So where does Markkanen fit in from the start?

However, the Hornets should pick the best player available and if Markkanen slips down to 11, there is a very high possibility that he will be the pick. Prepare yourselves myth busters.