Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is having an incredible rookie season. His ceiling seems higher every time he takes the court. The Fabulous Fin continues to do big things in his debut season, and on Monday his year got more historic.
In the second half against the Miami Heat, his 41st career game, Markkanen knocked down his 100th career three-pointer and became the fastest player in NBA history to do so. The previous record was held by Damian Lillard who completed the feat in 44 games. To give you some context, it took Stephen Curry 58 games, Klay Thompson – 59, Ray Allen – 76, Dirk Nowitzki – 113, Reggie Miller – 116, Larry Bird – 291, Michael Jordan – 382 to hit that mark. If this shooting continues Markkanen will set the record for three-pointers made in a season by a rookie. He’s on pace to make 200 three-pointers this year. Lillard currently holds the record with 185.
The seven-foot Markkanen is also connecting on more three-pointers per game than any rookie in the history of the league. Markkanen has averaged 2.5 threes per game, which beats out the previous record set by Damian Lillard (2.3) in 2013. Again, some threee-point legends, to give you some context, Curry (2.1), Allen (1.4), Miller (0.7), Nowitzki (0.3) and Steve Kerr (0.3). He is also first in three-point attempts (tied with Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell), his 6.6 attempts per game is also a rookie record (Jason Williams currently holds the record with 6.5 – set in the 1998-99 season). It sounds crazy but Markkanen is on pace to shoot twice as many threes this season as Larry Bird did in any season of his career.
Earlier in the year, the 20-year-old Finnish marksman became the first player in NBA history to make 10 three-pointers in his first three career games (previous record – nine by Jason Williams in 1998-99). And early this month he made a career-high eight three-pointers in the game and became one of just five Bulls players in team history to make at least eight three-pointers in a game, and joined Chris Duhon as the only rookies in franchise history to do so. He also tied Nowitzki for the most threes in a game by a seven-footer in NBA history (Nowitzki set the record in 2004). Only seven other rookies made eight-plus three-pointers in league history, and as you can imagine Markkanen is the first non-guard to do so.
Markkanen has hit multiple three-pointers in his last 11 games, which sets a new career-long streak after recording 10 such games to start the season. His 11-straight games is the longest streak of its kind by a rookie since Mike Miller hit at least two three-pointers in 12 games in a row in 2001. Overall he hit multiple three-pointers in 32 games this season, which is tied for fourth-most in the NBA and is the most among rookies. Again, it looks like he will set a new record, currently Lillard holds the rookie record with 55 such games.
Markkanen will most likely set the Bulls’ all-time single-season record for three-pointers made, currently held by Ben Gordon (173) in 2008-09 and in February he will set the team’s all-time single-season record for three-pointers made by a rookie (144, set by Kirk Hinrich in 2003-04). Hinrich also holds Bulls’ all-time record (1049), it will be Markkanen’s next stop.
There is clearly something special about this talented, young big man. He’s already averaging 15.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 30 minutes of action. He definitely has the potential to be a star in the league, and the Bulls would be wise to build around their developing star. Nikola Mirotic is now eligible to be traded and it sounds like it’s a lock to happen, so Markkanen is locked to play more the rest of the way. Thankfully, the Bulls are a lot more interesting, entertaining with Markkanen on the floor. The Finnisher should continue to improve this season, so don’t be surprised if he’s established himself as a 20-point-per-game scorer by next year. The signs are there.
Statistics used courtesy of NBA/Stats and Basketball Reference.