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Wizards vs. Bulls preview: A New Year’s Eve “trap game” awaits as Lauri Markkanen, the “male Emma Meesseman” comes to town

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The “male Emma Meesseman” is coming to the nation’s capital. That’s a trap waiting to happen.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards host the Chicago Bulls on New Year’s Eve as they play the Chicago Bulls. Here’s a preview.

Game Info

Where and When: December 31, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. ET at the Capital One Arena in D.C.

If you live in western and central Europe (Amsterdam, Warsaw, Prague), the game is at 9:30 p.m. Central European Time and it may end just in time for you to ring in 2018!

TV/Radio/Streaming: NBC Sports Washington in the D.C. area, 1500 AM on the radio in the D.C. area. The Washington Wizards mobile app also has streaming audio.

For streaming video, you can watch on NBCSports.com or NBA League Pass worldwide.

Injuries: Sheldon Mac is out for the Wizards due to an Achilles injury. For the Bulls, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine are out due to knee injuries. Cameron Payne is out due to a foot injury.

Odds: Our Kevin Broom gives Washington a 77 percent chance of winning.

How are the Bulls doing?

Chicago is 12-22, but they are 8-2 in their last 10 games despite injuries to their point guard rotation. Nikola Mirotic was out earlier this season due to injury, and has been a major reason behind their turnaround.

But the player Washington should keep their eyes on is Lauri Markkanen, their starting rookie power foward. Markkanen has good handles and athleticism for his position, he can drain the three point ball, and shows a strong basketball IQ.

Markkanen also gets comparisons to a player many of you are familiar with, but that player isn’t a man. He may be the closest thing to a “male Emma Meesseman” as we have in the NBA. That’s scary. He’s averaging nearly 15 points a game and scored a career high 32 points on 11 of 17 shooting against the Pacers on Friday.

Why is Lauri Markkanen the “male Emma Meesseman?”

Actually, don’t give BF credit for that. Give credit to New York Times and NBA Draft guru Howard Megdal. Here’s a snippet Megdal gave to CBS Sports in regard to Markkanen’s ability on the court. Though he didn’t compare Markkanen to Meesseman in that video, he has on the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast which he hosts.

To get into a more X’s and O’s breakdown of their similarities, here they are:

  • Both take good care of the basketball and have a good eye on the court. They know when to make the right pass or take the right shot. They also have good defensive fundamentals.
  • Both are also able to make three point shots which give defenders fits.

There are some differences in the way Markkanen and Meesseman are actually used. Markannen has been used as a primary scoring option for the Bulls, almost from Day 1. So his shooting efficiency isn’t at Meessemanesque levels. Meanwhile Meesseman has tended to be used a point forward during the 2017 season, in part because WNBA teams don’t have floor general point guard types like John Wall, Russell Westbrook, or Chris Paul.

If you take away the way Markannen and Meesseman are used on the court and just look at what their core attributes are, you can see their similarities pretty quickly. Click on the links below to see what I mean:

How would Markkanen react to being compared to Meesseman?

If this was the 1990’s, he may take issue to it. But we’re almost in 2018. He won’t.

In fact, Markkanen should be honored that he is mentioned in the same sentence as Meesseman despite the fact that she is over four years older than him.

We live in a world where there is both an NBA and a WNBA, and comparisons are inevitably going to go both ways. If a WNBA star gets compared to an NBA one, it’s inevitable that an NBA star will get compared to a WNBA one now that the WNBA has been in existence for over 20 years. That hasn’t happened much in the past, but it’s only going happen more in the future.

Who wins?

I’m going with the Wizards, because I’m hyping up a rookie. Maybe this “reverse-jinx” can work.

If I’m hyping up Lauri Markkanen as the male Emma Meesseman — who the Wizards should know A LOT about at this point — that should compel Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, Ian Mahinmi, and Mike Scott to do what they can to give him a tough afternoon.