Chicago Bulls: Sophomore slump coming for Lauri Markkanen?

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 9: Lauri Markkanen
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 9: Lauri Markkanen /

As Lauri Markkanen prepares for his second year, many are hoping for him to become the cornerstone for the Chicago Bulls moving forward. However, what would happen if he regresses early on into the 2018-2019 campaign? 

Don’t get me wrong, a stat line of 15.2 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, and 1.2 assists per game in 68 games is stellar for Lauri Markkanen. However, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the 20-year old goes through a minor bump in his second year with the Chicago Bulls.

If Lauri does hit the sophomore slump early on, I’m sure Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg will rely on the scoring prowess of Zach LaVine and newcomer, Jabari Parker to carry them late in games.

Hoiberg talked (Via Chicago Sun-Times) about what he wanted Lauri to work on in the offseason.

"“The No. 1 thing with Lauri for the summer is just to work on his body. He really didn’t have a summer to do that this past offseason because of the draft and because of the EuroBasket and getting to training camp late.”"

One thing Coach Hoiberg wanted Markkanen to work on this off-season was his body and he listened as he gained 14 pounds to his frame as seen in the post below.

With every strength comes a weakness. Although, there aren’t many weaknesses Lauri possesses, there were a few I noticed. It may have been due to the limited minutes he played (29.7), but early on in the season it appeared to me that Markannen was being too soft.

He would easily get bullied in the post, he wasn’t as aggressive as I’d like him to be on offense and sometimes it would show as you forgot he was even in the game. That being said, there are areas the 20-year old can improve upon.

What can Lauri continue to improve upon?

  • Ability to defend: Standing at 7’0″ tall, Lauri moves very well for a big man his size. You don’t see that often with big men his size being able to move that smoothly – especially on the perimeter. Still, being able to help out on defense will be a major key to success for this Chicago Bulls team given that they lost David Nwaba to the Cleveland Cavaliers this off-season.
  • Rebounding: Coming into the league, you would think Lauri Markkanen – given his height – would be an outstanding rebounder. Wrong. Lauri averaged only 7.2 rebounds (2.4 defensive and 4.8 offensive) in his lone season at Arizona. Hoping to use the added weight to his benefit, Markkanen hopes to increase his rebounding total from last and be a force down low alongside rookie, Wendell Carter, Jr.
  • Post Moves: Lauri Markkanen plays like a modern-day NBA Center. Able to stretch the floor, it’s as if he can literally score from everywhere – except in the low post that is. Yeah, he has the nice mid-range jumper going for him. But, what if he adds a post game to his repertoire? Now, that would be deadly and not only be beneficial for him, but the team overall.

Overall, Lauri Markkanen is way too good of a player and talent to have a slump for a prolonged period of time.

Zach LaVine has the most to prove. dark. Next

Nevertheless, you never know what to expect from this Bulls team. If the slump lingers, what will happen then? Well..let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that.