2. Lauri Markkanen
Lauri Markkanen was actually acquired in the trade for Jimmy Butler, so when theorizing these what-if scenarios, we cannot assume that they would have played together. However, it hurts to see that one of the best player development stories in the NBA today only improved once he got out of Chicago.
This year’s Most Improved Player award winner was dominant in his first season with the Utah Jazz, averaging 25.6 points per game on 49.9/39.1/87.5 shooting splits and adding 8.6 boards. These are some ridiculous numbers, and ironically enough, the Finnisher outpaced both Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan in points per game this season. He was one of few scoring options on the team, but it does leave a sour taste to see he has finally become the player many of us believed he could be for another team.
Markkanen’s time with Chicago was tumultuous, to say the least. He had incredible promise as a scorer averaging 18.7 PPG in just his second season. However, there were growing concerns with Markkanen’s effort, especially on the defensive end.
The Bulls must learn to be patient with the development of their prospects after giving up on Lauri Markkanen too early.
This led to the forward falling out of favor with the franchise and eventually being acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a sign-and-trade. The 7-footer transitioned to a small forward role, where he was able to improve defensively and score the ball fairly well. Then in Utah, Markkanen became the number 1 option and was a human highlight reel.
This season, the Bulls struggled to score the ball, especially outside of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Certainly, this team could have used a 25 PPG scorer, especially one that they already had on the team.