San Antonio Spurs: Potential Roster Impacts of Lauri Markkanen Interest

Dec 15, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Chicago Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen (24) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs small forward Rudy Gay (22) during the first half at AT&T Center. (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
Dec 15, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Chicago Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen (24) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs small forward Rudy Gay (22) during the first half at AT&T Center. (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
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San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs

Jan 3, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Luka Samanic (19) shoots in the second half against the Utah Jazz at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Markkanen and Samanic is a European pairing oozing with versatility

As many have pointed out, there seems to be an overlap with Samanic and Markkanen’s skillsets. However, the promise of this pairing is very intriguing, providing the Silver and Black a combination that has never been seen before.

Luka Samanic has shown more than enough versatility to upend positional overlaps in the rotation. His defensive ability makes it possible for him to play as a small forward, or even as a center in small ball sets. The combination of Samanic and Markkanen, coupled with the team’s army of attackers in the backcourt and disruptive wings, also boosts a frontcourt that has solely depended on Rudy Gay for scoring.

https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2021/04/05/0022000767/39/ddd9e6e4-469b-3b77-8625-3c528c561b31_1280x720.mp4

The shooting ability of both players is exciting, but one aspect noticeable from Luka is his court awareness. No longer afraid to commit mistakes, he has shown a knack for reading the defense, knowing when to shoot, drive or dish. Here, he catches the defense sleeping and zips a great pass inside.

https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2021/03/16/0022000612/84/31ee6d38-d2c8-d2b9-2200-4d17abed49aa_1280x720.mp4

Markkanen has also shown an innate ability for moving without the basketball. But even if Lauri remains stationary on the perimeter, or cuts to the basket, as seen here, the young Croatian has shown the ability to connect with the Finnish big man.

There are some concerns about the pair’s ability to defend. Markkanen hasn’t been much of a rim protector in his time with Chicago, and while we have seen Samanic hold his own in spurts against players like Julius Randle, it’s still too soon to say if he’ll be able to guard physical bigs on regular basis.

Next: Lauri and Jakob

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