Lauri Markkanen’s career night versus the Suns ends the Jazz’s losing streak

Shortly after the Utah Jazz beat the Phoenix Suns Friday night, on the shoulders of a career-high 38-point night from Lauri Markkanen, teammate Markkanen officially kicked off the public campaign to become an NBA All-Star.

Jared Vanderbilt didn’t mince words and didn’t try to beat around the bush.

“Laurie Markkanen is an All-Star,” he wrote on Twitter. “This is it.”

Currently, Markkanen ranks seventh in points per game (22.2) among frontcourt players in the Western Conference, and is second in that group in field goal percentage (54.4%). The only player in the NBA with the same number of points per game and a higher effective field goal percentage than Markkanen (61.1%) is Stephen Curry (65.2%)

The Jazz needed every fight from Mike Conley Friday night, they needed all 27 of Malik Paisley’s points off the bench, and they needed every ounce of defense from Vanderbilt to pull off the 134-133 win over Phoenix, however, the team knew that Markkanen He was the star of the show.

Before we get into how effective Markkanen is on the offensive end, it’s important to note how important he is defensively. The box score would only show one block for the 7-foot ball, but he also had a number of timely deflections and his ability to switch to and stay with smaller players continues to improve and impress from game to game.

“It was impressive as an athlete that he hadn’t been around before, as with a basketball player,” said Jazz coach Will Hardy. “I don’t know what the roof is on Lori. I don’t think any of us do, but I’m sure we haven’t seen that yet.”

Offensively, Markkanen was adept at shaping the Suns defense. His awareness of the screen and seams and his timing off the ball is one of the things that stands out as exciting.

Let’s not forget that Markkanen is 7-foot-tall and is able to cut through the backdoor and sneak up the field as if he were a 6-foot-1 guard. Here are some clips of his off-the-ball movement, which includes his timing and use of screens as a shooter.

“He caused a lot of problems with his ability to read the game off the ball,” said Conley. “We’ve had more action with him sliding to the rim and getting snapshots and dunks than we’ve probably had in a long time. He’s a really smart player and with his height and size, he can finish tackle a lot of people and still play other guys on the weak side “.

None of this is by accident either. Markkanen has worked on trying to be a better cutter and get smarter off the ball and Hardy has put him into a system that rewards that work.

“Maybe it doesn’t match the package it comes in,” Hardy said. “I suspect you look at him and you wouldn’t assume he’s mobile and intelligent. Like, his footwork, it’s not just the same as speed in a straight line. It’s his footwork in tight spaces and his ability to change direction.”

Markkanen has had good seasons in the past. He had 35 nights with Chicago and a 31-point game with Cleveland, but it’s not just about the points. His efficiency, use, and confidence are at an all-time high on this Jazz team. But more importantly, no one around Jazz thinks we’ve seen the best of Markkanen yet, including Markkanen himself.

He said, “I am definitely not satisfied.” “There are so many things I could do better.”

Markkanen left the ring with the game ball and indicated that he hoped it wouldn’t be the last ball he got. When asked what he would do with it, he said he would take it home, but his kids would probably end up playing with it.

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