Can Lauri Markkanen lead the Jazz back to the postseason?

Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Jazz surprised many last season after the team’s new-look roster remained somewhat competitive after Utah seemingly pressed the reset button last offseason.

With their newfound star, Lauri Markkanen, leading the way, the Jazz could be closer to a return to the postseason than expected.

Can Lauri Markkanen lead the Jazz back to the postseason?

Markkanen came to the Jazz as a former lottery pick who had shown glimpses of potential but could never fully break out. However, under new leadership with Will Hardy and in a different system, the Arizona product flourished in his first season in Salt Lake City. The big man averaged 25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists on 49.9% from field goal range and 39.2% from three.

Hardy allowed the versatile playmaker to slide back and forth between small forward and power forward and put his best player in position to succeed, which in turn allowed the Jazz to find success as a whole.

Now with a full offseason under the seven-footer’s belt in Utah, Danny Ainge and company have continued to add young talent around their star. The addition of John Collins and Taylor Hendricks will allow Markkanen to play more at small forward, an area in which the former lottery pick excelled last season. Allowing Lauri to play in multiple positions in the lineup will give Hardy the freedom to throw a variety of different lineups on the floor, which could mean headaches for opposing defenses.

If Utah can build on what the team started last season, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Jazz make another leap in their second season of rebuilding. The team fell just shy of the play-in tournament this season, so moving forward next season, a goal to reach the postseason is more than feasible. And with Markkanen leading the way, the team will go as far as the 26-year-old takes them.

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