Is Lauri Markkanen a Top 25 player in the NBA?
The Utah Jazz have a potential franchise player in the making with Lauri Markkanen. He’s just 26 years old and has developed into one of the most unique and dynamic scorers in the league right now. From the three-point range to the paint, Markkanen has the ability to score from everywhere.
Defensively, he’s not great, but he’s far from a liability. He can hold his own on the perimeter against smaller and quicker forwards, while being strong enough to give bigger power forwards and centers a tough time. He can’t stop Jayson Tatum or Nikola Jokic but he can make them work harder.
The Jazz got lucky with Markkanen to a degree, as he struggled to find a rhythm in Chicago with the Bulls, and then in Cleveland, he was buried under others who got more shot attempts than him. Now in Utah, he’s showing off the true depth of his talent, but has that talent developed enough to see him sit in the Top 25 of the NBA?
According to The Ringer and CBS Sports, no, but not by much. The Ringer has him at No. 28, while CBS has him at No. 27. De’Aaron Fox and Devin Booker are ahead of him on CBS’s list, which is fair, but Zion Williamson, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden are ahead of them, which isn’t fair.
George is showing his age, Irving is a great scorer but can’t play defense to save his life. Williamson can’t stay on the court and Harden hasn’t been the same since the NBA banned Harden’s go-to move – throwing yourself into a defender when shooting. So I would argue that CBS Sports got it wrong with Markkanen.
The Ringers have him at No. 28, with Pascal Siakam, Jalen Brunson, and Paul George ahead of him heading into the Top 25. Markkanen, today, is better than all three of those men. They also have James Harden at No. 19, and Kawhi Leonard in the Top 10, so clearly a lot of these lits is based on name value, not on the court value. If you can’t play more than 20 games, how can you be one of the best players in the world? Make it make sense.
Then here’s SportsNaut, just listing Markkanen at No. 43. Apparently not everyone can be taken seriously these days.
When you factor in age, talent, upside, and impact, it’s not hard to see that Markkanen is a Top 25 guy. He’s not much higher, falling anywhere from No. 22 to No. 25 but he’s certainly higher than guys like Harden and Irving who have proven to be very limited as players as they advance in age.