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)
San Antonio Spurs need to think twice about going after Lauri Markkanen
A lot of San Antonio Spurs fans have been pushing for the team to make a run at John Collins this summer but another floor-spacing forward who reportedly has the franchise’s eye is the Chicago Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen certainly has appeal to his game but I’m still not totally convinced.
One of the most appealing things about Markkanen is what he would bring to the Spurs as a shooting threat in the frontcourt. Consistent three-point shooting is something the Spurs have lacked from their forwards and as a 39 percent three-point shooter, Markkanen would give the Spurs guards a reliable kick-out option.
But there are more than a few things that should give the Spurs front office reason to pause before offering a nine-figure offer to the Finnish big man. His injury history, questionable defense, and fit with Jakob Poeltl are all causes for concern.
First and foremost, I don’t feel great about making a near-max offer to a player who has been injured as often as Markkanen has. He’s barely played more than 50 games in each of the last two seasons and seems to frequently be sidelined with injuries that aren’t debilitating but have certainly stagnated his development.
His career is littered with back and leg injuries which isn’t something I want to see in a player the Spurs could possibly make a max offer to. The best ability is availability and I just can’t get on board with Markkanen given how often he misses games.
The second two points go hand in hand. The league is continuing to trend smaller and faster, which makes playing Makkanen at the four – the position he would have to play in any lineup with Jakob Poeltl as the starter – a risky prospect. Would you feel great about seeing Makkanen out on an island guarding someone like Michael Porter Jr.? I certainly wouldn’t, and those are the kind of situations he would be in as the Spurs starting forward.