Arizona Basketball

NBA Draft: Former Wildcat Lauri Markkanen heading to the Chicago Bulls

Former University of Arizona freshman Lauri Markkanen will be heading to the Chicago Bulls, as the seventh pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Although the Minnesota Timberwolves had the 7th pick in the NBA Draft, the Timberwolves swapped first round picks with Chicago Bulls in a blockbuster trade for Bulls All-Star guard Jimmy Butler. 

With his combination of height and three-point shooting, the freshman from Jyvasklya, Finland was slotted as high as sixth on Draft Express’ 2017 mock draft. Despite questions about his defense and rebounding, Markkanen’s lone season in Tucson was enough to label him not only as one of the best shooters in college basketball history by Ricky O’Donnell of SBNation, but also as a potential NBA-changing stretch 5, according to The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks. Markkanen also had an offensive rating of 130.2 points per 100 possessions — good for 15th in the nation — on KenPom.com.

Markkanen’s freshman year statistics, per KenPom.com.

Markkanen’s lottery selection comes on the heels of his accolade-filled 2016-17 season — in which he averaged 15.6 points per game (on 49.2 percent shooting) and 7.8 rebounds per game on the way to an AP All-American Third Team selection.

In addition to his national awards, Markkanen established himself in the Wildcats’ basketball record books. The future Bull was the second highest-scoring freshman in program history (576), and third-highest in rebounds (266), made three-pointers (69), made free throws (137); and fourth in free throw percentage (83.5 percent), according to his bio on the Wildcats athletic site.

Prior to the draft, Markkanen was speculated to go to the New York Knicks, possibly as a replacement for Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis, as first reported by The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @kylecajero

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