How the NBA missed on Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen's stardom in Utah seemed to come out of nowhere. How did we miss what was right in front of our eyes?

Lauri Markkanen throws it down against Golden State
Lauri Markkanen throws it down against Golden State / Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
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What's So Good About Cleveland?

Joakim Noah had choice words for his feelings about the city of Cleveland. For Markkanen, he would have to find out where he fit into a Cavaliers team full of budding young talent. He'd need to answer that exact question: "What is so good about Cleveland?"

In a crowded Cavalier frontcourt, the 7-footer from Finland was shifted to the small forward position. An interesting move made with solid reasoning, Markkanen has the range to play as a small forward, and while he isn't lightning-quick on his feet, his defense should be able to hold up against opposing 3s across the league.

While done with good intentions, Markkanen's role as a small forward minimized some of his best attributes. Who better to space the floor than a 7-footer who can rain 3-balls at a 40% rate? Why match him up with smaller, faster forwards when you could use his skills to create space to let your offense work more freely? Unfortunately, Markkanen was still misunderstood in his developing years.

Lauri Markkanen
Markkanen celebrates after scoring for the Cavs / Jason Miller/GettyImages

In the offseason of 2022, when the Utah Jazz began shopping their All-Star guard, Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland took the opportunity to inject a shot of talent onto their roster. Markkanen was surprised to hear that he had been dealt away and shared that in an interview on the Draymond Green Show.

"Being the guy in Cleveland, I took the challenge of guarding the best players on the team and really tried to do whatever the team needed me to do, and they still traded me. That was just the business of basketball."

Lauri Markkanen