2. Black Bracket
(#2) Lauri Markkanen vs (#15) Adam Mokoka
This matchup presents our first chance at an upset very early. Markkanen is still the biggest mystery on the team. His size and skill make him a unique asset working from the outside in. But he doesn’t have the physicality that one would like, or at least he doesn’t always show it. His rebounding has fallen after a spike during an injury-shortened 2018-19 season.
Markkanen’s biggest issue is consistency, be it effort or ability. But for Adam Mokoka, a defensive doppelganger for Jimmy Butler (too much?), consistency is key. He applies pressure with his strength and tenacity. It isn’t unfathomable that he would give Lauri fits by getting up into him and being physical. But it just feels too early for The Finnisher to bow out.
(#3) Wendell Carter vs. (#14) Shaq Harrison
Talk about a tough draw. This Bulls team doesn’t have much in the way of brute strength, but Wendell Carter does his best to heed the call on a nightly basis. He is arguably the most consistent player on the team. Shaquille Harrison is working himself into a nice piece on the less glamorous end.
Neither player is a major offensive threat so we default to physical ability. Carter is an undersized center. At 6-foot-9, though, he towers over Harrison; whose defense has websites listing him at 6-foot-7; about four inches too tall. Harrison’s best trait happens to be right in Carter’s wheelhouse. The former Blue Devil should easily handle the guard’s physicality and aggressiveness.