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Lauri Markkanen

NBA

What’s wrong with Lauri Markkanen?

Following another blowout loss on Saturday, the Chicago Bulls are now 3-7 to start the new season. On paper, that actually doesn’t look so bad, and there is definitely still a lot of time to make up for what has been a rather sluggish start. However, looking at the nature of majority of Chicago’s losses this season, it’s hard to be as optimistic as one would expect.

On Saturday, for instance, the Bulls started the game strong against a highly-talented Houston Rockets side. At the half, James Harden and company were up by only a single point, 50-49. And then, the second half happened. The Rockets poured it on in the third, outscoring a helpless Bulls side, 36-18. The game was already over even before the fourth period started.

This has, unfortunately, been quite the norm for Chicago of late, with team seemingly unable to remain competitive for the entire 48 minutes. One man who appears to be in the center of all this is Bulls third-year man Lauri Markkanen.

Currently, the 22-year-old is averaging career-lows in points (14.9), field goal percentage (38.5), 3-pointers made (1.7), rebounds (7.4), and blocked shots (0.5). Most alarming, perhaps, is the fact that Markkanen is only attempting 12.2 shots per contest, which is a considerable dip from last season’s 15.3 attempts per game.

When asked about what appears to be an apparent lack of aggression from his end, Markkanen explained that the Bulls are still trying to figure things out at the moment.

“We do have a different offense, and we’re trying to figure out where the offense is coming from,” Lauri Markkanen told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “Where your spots are. I’m not running that much in the post right now. I’m more on the perimeter as part of our offense. But we’re trying to figure it out and get to our spots.”

Mayberry pushed the Finn even further with his questioning, asking Markkanen if he feels he is at times being too unselfish.

“I just try to make the right basketball play,” Lauri Markkanen said. “I know I can be more aggressive at times. But I wouldn’t call it too unselfish.”

As Markkanen explained, Bulls head coach Jim Boylen appears to be trying out some new things in his team’s offense. As it turns out, however, it currently looks like these new schemes are decreasing Markkanen’s usage rate. As it stands, with the Bulls off to another slow start and Markkanen looking off, this new approach seems to be doing more harm than good.

There has been no reports of any injury, and Markkanen does look as healthy as he ever has been, so perhaps, it is really just this shift in offense that has had a rather undesirable effect on his play.

Then again, maybe Boylen and the Bulls figure things out over the next few weeks, and they end up winning games using these new schemes. However, whether or not Markkanen is able to shake off his sluggish start in his team’s new system is going to be a whole different question.