The 2017 seventh overall pick Lauri Markkanen is in the final season of his rookie contract and did not receive an extension during this past season. He will be entering restricted free agency and there is no telling what the outcome will be. A lot of people are split on Markkanen and the value he brings to the team. With Markkanen you get a lot of good and bad with an uncertainty of the future.
Markannen is one of the sweetest shooting 7-footers in the league. That was his calling card coming out of the University of Arizona and he has not disappointed in that aspect. Due to this shooting, he provides great spacing for his teammates to create. Zach Lavine and to a lesser degree, Coby White, are creators who need space to work and the three-point shooting ability of Markkanen allows the Bulls’ backcourt to do so.
At only twenty-three years old he still has plenty of room to grow. The Chicago Bulls have a very young roster and have the ability for them to grow together into the future. The team also brought in all-star Nikola Vucevic, another 7-footer who can torch it from the outside. Vucevic can be a great mentor for Markkanen considering their similar playstyles.
Markkanen came into the league showing such promise, making the All-Rookie First Team. In his second year, he developed even more on what he showed in his inaugural season. The issue stems from then on though. He has not progressed any further from that sophomore season.
A lot of media and fans believed that his third season was such a regression due to the ineptitude of former Bulls coach Jim Boylen, but this season has proved that this was not the issue. The Bulls brought in Billy Donovan this past season, and while he may not be the greatest coach, he has shown he can get the most out of a lot of different offensive talents. LaVine has blossomed into an All-Star in his first season under Donovan, while Markkanen has fallen out of favor.
Markkanen has played the least amount of minutes per game of his career. This is likely due to how limited he has become on the floor. He is shooting the highest three-point percentage of his career this season, but his backup, Thaddeus Young, offers so much versatility in other areas that warrant a lot more minutes. Young’s versatility is also a much greater fit next to Vucevic. While Markkanen could learn from Vucevic, it would be very difficult to see them, actually playing next to each other. That frontcourt would not hold their own on the defensive end of the court whatsoever.
While there may seem to be more of a focus on the negatives, Markkanen still has a bright future in this league. As mentioned earlier, he is still a 23-year-old sharpshooting seven-footer, those are not common whatsoever in the league today.
The Bulls will likely wait to see the offers that other teams are willing to give him and then make their decision. They likely do not value him at a near-max contract, but a team with a lot of money going through a rebuild might be willing to take a swing at a player that showed such potential his first two years in the league.
That is likely the ideal situation for Markkanen, get as much money as possible while going to a place that will allow him to do more than just shoot spot-up three-pointers.