Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats productivity report: Markkanen drawing significant NBA scout interest


A spokesman for the upcoming Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Casino Arena next Thursday and Friday said on a Las Vegas radio station this week that a record 40 NBA scouts have requested credentials for the event that includes the Arizona Wildcats.

He said most of the buzz surrounds the Arizona Wildcats’ 7-foot versatile forward Lauri Markkanen, who despite being a freshman already has an NBA body and skills to go with it. Markkanen has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki and Kristaps Porzingis for his size and ability to play on the wing and near the basket. published a story yesterday on Markkanen basically confirming what Arizona followers have already noticed of the Finnish star in victories over Michigan State and Cal State Bakersfield.

“While he’s still polishing his attack game and defensive effectiveness, Markkanen can already hurt opponents in a lot of ways,” Daniel O’Brien writes. “Against both MSU and CSU-Bakersfield, he peppered defenders with slashing, mid-range pull-ups and pick-and-pop triples. It was an enticing preview of the impact he could make at both the college and pro levels.” projects Markkanen to be a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA draft as the No. 8 pick.

“On the defensive end of the floor, Markkanen competes, and shows nice mobility on perimeter switches, not looking out of place, moving his feet and trying to stay in front of quicker forwards and even guards,” reports on Markkanen. “He’ll need to continue to add strength so he can handle physicality in the paint at the college and higher professional levels. At just 19 years old, Markkanen already has four years of pro and FIBA experience under his belt.”

Some quick notes about tonight’s game between Arizona and Sacred Heart at McKale Center (8 p.m.):

— The Wildcats will look to improve their non-conference home court winning streak to 35 games. Arizona’s last loss at home outside of Pac-12 play came to Bucknell on the 2012 NIT. Arizona has won 56 of its last 57 overall games in Tucson with a mark of 109-12 (.901) at McKale Center under Sean Miller.

— Markkanen led the Wildcats with this site’s productivity rating (listed below) at 1.333 against Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday. Overall, he leads Arizona at .943 after two games. The other players above Arizona’s team average of .478 are Kobi Simmons (.650) and Chance Comanche (.512).

— The visiting Pioneers of Sacred Heart represent the farthest traveling team to visit McKale Center since Rhode Island traveled 2,583 miles to Tucson to play the Wildcats on Nov. 19, 2013. It is 2,485 miles from Sacred Heart’s campus in Fairfield, Conn. The Pioneers stay out West through next Friday for the Las Vegas Classic. After tonight, they play at Santa Clara on Monday. Santa Clara, coached by former ASU coach Herb Sendek, plays Arizona on Thanksgiving night in Las Vegas.

— Sacred Heart has New Mexico State transfer Matej Buovac, a forward from Croatia who played against Arizona while with the Aggies. He played six minutes off the bench and went scoreless in New Mexico State’s 74-48 loss to Arizona in McKale Center on Dec. 11, 2013.

PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

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FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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