Chicago Bulls: Positives from first 3 games of the season

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bulls, Lauri Markkanen
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

2. Lauri Markkanen could be turning into what the Chicago Bulls have longed for

Jim Boylen tried his best to ruin Lauri Markkanen, and he nearly did it. The Bulls and Markkanen not coming to an agreement on an extension prior to this season may end up hurting Chicago in the end, because Markkanen has looked like a whole new beast to start the year.

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For starters, he’s become a more physical player on both ends of the court. Boylen’s idea of deploying Markkanen was to strand him across the three-point line and let him shoot. While the potential has always been there for Markkanen to be a solid outside shooter, that’s not even close to what his ceiling is overall.

This year, Markkanen is attacking with regularity. He’s getting to the free throw line an average of five times per game. At the same time, he’s also taking what he can get from beyond the arc, shooting 10-for-21 thus far, good for nearly 48 percent.

The intriguing aspect of how Donovan is using Markkanen has been when using him at center when the Bulls play small ball. He’s given Markkanen a break before he does Wendell Carter, and then bringing Markkanen back in the game for Carter a few minutes later. At that point, Markkanen takes over at the five spot and becomes a tough matchup for opposing centers.

As a whole, Markkanen’s game already looks like it’s been taken to another level this year, even just through three games. He’s posting 20.0 points, 7.7 boards, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game while playing fairly smart and fouling just 1.3 times per night.