Mike Schmitz analyzes the versatile shooting stroke and extraordinarily high skill-level of Finnish 7-footer Lauri Markkanen, looking at the many different ways Arizona is utilizing his talent en route to a 7-0 start in the Pac-12 (18-2 overall).
Markkanen, who currently leads the NCAA in half-court scoring efficiency, is the only high major player shooting over 50% or higher from 3-point range with at least 90 attempts.
Remarkably, he already ranks among the best shooting 7-footers in NCAA history in terms of volume of 3-pointers made, and will likely crack #1 in that category sometime in the next few weeks.
Arizona's coaching staff is using Markkanen in a myriad of different ways, which has helped him demonstrate his extraordinary versatility offensively. That includes letting him run off screens thanks to his tremendous agility, footwork and quick release, or as the ball-handler in pick and roll sets with fellow 7-footer Dusan Ristic, which is extremely difficult for collegiate defenses to handle.
His shot-preparation, body control and range are almost unheard of for a player his size, and the fact that he is a threat in spot-up situations, pick and pops, and dribble hand-offs helps keep the floor spaced perfectly for Arizona and gives his guards plenty of room to operate in the half-court. With the added spacing of the more distant NBA 3-point line, its not a stretch to wonder how much more room Markkanen will have to get clean looks.
Markkanen's jumper is extremely difficult to contest effectively because of his high release point and slight lean back, and he regularly makes well-defended shots with a hand in his face.
When well-defended on an initial action, Markkanen is showing increasing comfort going out and getting his own shot, attacking closeouts or even in one on one situations. He mixes in step-backs and will take the ball strong to the basket at times as well.
The next step for him (offensively) is to develop is ability to operate from the mid to low post, improve his ability to drive right, become a better playmaker with the ball in his hands, and do a better job of drawing contact and getting to the free throw line.
Mike Schmitz is the video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and check out the DraftExpress Video section. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us.