Lauri Markkanen’s breakout season hinges on Cavs’ bold challenge
Cleveland Cavaliers big man Lauri Markkanen has found himself in a forest, but amid the tall trees in Northeast Ohio, the young Finnish sees a path to avoid being lost. Fortunately for Markkanen, Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff has given him the license to expand his game and prove he’s more than just a shooter.
“He’s more than just a spot shooter. He can catch and shoot off the move, but he also has an offensive game where you can give him the ball in isolation situations, and he can go get you a bucket there too.”
“I don’t want to make him feel like he’s just got to stay behind that line and hunt them. I want him to play basketball and I want him to take all shots.”
The Cavs put $67 million worth of trust in Markkanen when they executed the multi-team sign-and-trade deal involving the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers.
Despite having a down year in 2020-21, Markkanen still shot the three-ball at an impressive 40% clip. In the Cavs’ Wine and Gold scrimmage held Saturday afternoon, the 2017 lottery pick scorched from downtown, hitting six 3-pointers en route to a 20-point performance in only 10 minutes of play.
Amid the frontcourt logjam, Markkanen offers a rare weapon for the Cavs. Save for Kevin Love who’s expected to play fewer minutes this season, Markkanen is the only big man who can stroke it efficiently from long distance.
Such an attribute will allow him to be on the floor often, giving the 7-footer more opportunities to showcase his other skills for the Cavs.