Howard Megdal of CBS Sports likes Chicago Bulls post Lauri Markkanen. Last May in a pre-NBA Draft preview, he summed up the former Arizona star’s strengths and weaknesses in the video below:
Markkanen is a strong shooter and has good footwork for his position. But it may take him some time before he can play consistently on defense. Megdal believed that Markkanen could be a Top-5 pick, but he was picked 7th to the Minnesota Timberwolves and traded to the Bulls in the Jimmy Butler deal.
After an up-and-down Summer League, Markkanen suited up for Team Finland in EuroBasket 2017. Like most European NBA players, Markkanen is the most talented player on his team. And on Thursday, the Finnish defeated France in overtime, 86-84 when he scored 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting, and drained two three pointers, including one with just over a minute left in overtime. You can watch his highlights below:
The highlights are nice to see, but there’s another angle to all of this. Markkanen showed an uncanny ability to score instantly while cutting to the hoop, he knows how to use his feet in the post to make better shots, and he’ll make threes just because it’s icing on the cake in one of the biggest basketball games in Finnish history.
Sounds a lot like what someone in D.C. does in HER sleep: Emma Meesseman that is.
Meesseman may not be able to dunk like Markkanen did for the Finnish crowd, but she had a similar performance when she led Belgium to a 79-66 win over Italy in the EuroBasket Women 2017 quarterfinals last June. In that game she scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and scored with her post footwork, and her athletic ability which is underrated to be honest:
Earlier this August, Megdal, who also hosts the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast, interviewed San Antonio Stars rookie guard Kelsey Plum.
In the podcast, they talked about a number of topics, but one was about comparing men’s players to women’s players since it’s not uncommon to compare women’s players to men’s players. And that’s when Megdal told Plum that he thought Markkanen’s game reminds him of Meesseman’s because he didn’t think there was a men’s player who was a good comparison. Plum agreed with that at the 14:40 minute mark of the podcast (or you can click here):
Megdal and Plum both agreed that comparisons need to go both ways, and it’s a way for people to appreciate the men and women who play basketball just a bit more.
Do I think Lauri Markkanen is the NBA’s Emma Meesseman? In one of our recent links posts, I noted that they share similar skillsets, but Markkanen was a big more perimeter oriented than Meesseman is. In short, I was a bit hesitant to totally buy into that comparison.
After Thursday’s performance though, I am convinced that Markkanen plays like a male version of Emma Meesseman. That would be a very scary thing for the Bulls over the next several years.
Like Meesseman did in EuroBasket Women, Markkanen put his country on his back and scored when it mattered most. The Finland men’s national team still has a long way to go before matching the Belgian women’s bronze medal finish. But if Markkanen can keep this up for the rest of EuroBasket, the Finnish won’t be easy to deal with in the group or elimination stages to say the very least.