Where should the Utah Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen rank among small forwards?

Lauri Markkanen of the Utah Jazz.
Lauri Markkanen of the Utah Jazz. /

How does the Utah Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen stack up against the rest of the NBA’s small forwards?

There’s a slight debate surrounding Lauri Markkanen, and what his position is. It’s not a huge factor, as guys like him can play just about anywhere on the court when needed. He can be a power forward in a lineup that has three smaller guards, or he can be a small forward in a lineup that sees him sharing the court with the combination of John Collins, Kelly Olynyk, and/or Walker Kessler.

This has made Markkanen a bit o a unicorn of sorts, the true definitive positionless player that the NBA is currently enamored with. That said, positions still matter, as it implies a players assumed duties.

So if Markkanen is going to be labeled both a small forward and a power forward, we’re going to look at where he would land in the Top 10 of both groups. To help with this assignment, we’re pulling in a video from Hoops Reference and will use it as our base for the “top 10” at the small forward position.

For clarity, the channel Hoops Reference lists Markkanen as a power forward, so that is why he isn’t in this Top 10.

So here’s how the video ranks the

"Jayson TatumLeBron JamesJimmy ButlerKawhi LeonardBrandon IngramMikal BridgesDeMar DeRozanMichael Porter Jr.Andrew WiggensOG Anunoby"

Honorable Mentions

"Khris MiddletonFranz WagnerJaden McDaniels"

Looking at the Top 10, it’s hard to say LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are still in the Top two and five respectively. I think the list is far more likely to look like Jimmy Butler at number one, Jayson Tatum at two, James at three, Brandon Ingram at four, and our boy, Markkanen at five. Then we’d have Porter Jr., DeRozan, Leonard, Bridges, and Wiggens.

Our Top 10

  1. Jimmy Butler
  2. Jayson Tatum
  3. LeBron James
  4. Brandon Ingram
  5. Lauri Markkanen
  6. Micahel Porter Jr.
  7. DeMar DeRozan
  8. Mikal Bridges
  9. Andrew Wiggens
  10. OG Anunoby

Butler and James are still proven top guys, while Tatum has his issues, he’s a good scorer most of the time for Boston. The reason those three and Ingram are higher than Markaknen is simply because they’ve had multiple big seasons as opposed to Markkanen’s one.

While that’s true, Markkanen is a more complete scorer and all-around better player than Porter, DeRozan, Bridges, Wiggins, and Anunoby. So why does Leonard get left off our list? Well, you can have all the skills in the world but if you can’t stay healthy, how can you actually impact a team?

Being great is solely based on one’s ability to impact a team. Leonard has played 60 games just once in six years. These Top 10 lists are about guys who can make an impact, and which among them can do it the best.

If Leonard is for sure to miss a quarter of the season at least every year, and is far more likely to miss the playoffs than to make it, how can he impact a team better than those ahead of him? Give me a healthy Markkanen over an injury-prone Leonard.

Next. 6 biggest questions for the Utah Jazz heading to training camp. dark