A 5-11 team who already struggles to shoot the ball cannot typically afford to be without its best player. But that is the unlucky hand the Utah Jazz are being dealt ahead of Monday night's home matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans. Lauri Markkanen has been ruled out with a left hamstring strain, per the team.

It is the same ailment that sidelined the 2022 All-Star forward from Saturday's win over the Pels (both teams were short-handed). With Zion Williamson set to play, earning a sweep in the Delta Center feels like a daunting task for Utah. Though, Jordan Clarkson is expected to return to the starting lineup, giving head coach Will Hardy some firepower to unleash against New Orleans.

Despite the team's poor record, Markkanen's importance cannot be understated. Fresh off a career 2022-23 campaign, the Finland native is off to another strong start this season. He is averaging 23.7 points on an efficient 48.4 percent shooting (38.3 percent from distance), 8.7 rebounds and nearly one block per game.

Markkanen faces an uphill climb to earn his second All-Star invite, given the abundance of big-man competition, but his offensive versatility always makes him a player worth monitoring. The most important objective, however, is to help the Jazz take a definitive step in the right direction.

Young Will Hardy has a tough job in front him, as the roster is replete with bigs and forwards (John Collins, Walker Kessler) who all must find ways to consistently eat. The ingredients for success are there, but blending everything together into a winning recipe has proven to be a difficult task.

The absence of Lauri Markkanen means there will be one less mouth to feed Monday versus the Pelicans, but that is by no means a solution to the problem.