Cavs newcomer Lauri Markkanen came in guns blazing
The Wine & Gold Scrimmage gave the public an extended first look at the young Cleveland Cavaliers team playing some five-on-five basketball, featuring plenty of thunderous jams, lobs, blocks, and perhaps most importantly, three-point bombs–many from Cavs newcomer Lauri Markkanen.
Cleveland’s latest addition elicited loud cheers from the fans who were in attendance at the Rocker Mortgage Fieldhouse as he nailed six of those shots from deep. He also made a contested fastbreak layup over teammate Jarrett Allen in a performance that had him grinning from ear to ear throughout.
The 7-foot stretch big was brought in during the offseason to address a legitimate concern: providing a much-needed boost to a Cavs team that wallowed at the very bottom of the NBA in three-point shots made last season.
Saturday’s scrimmage proved there no is doubt Markkanen is still the expert marksman the Cavs traded away one of the most beloved players for. Only 24, he’ll also play an important part in the team’s future after arriving with a fresh four-year, $67 million contract.
The deadeye shooting spree he put up reminds us why the bittersweet sign-and-trade deal wherein the Cavs sent away homegrown son and fan-favorite Larry Nance Jr. should be a little bit easier to digest.
Despite being a downgrade from Nance defensively, the former Chicago Bulls lottery pick brings a lot to the table on the offensive end, last averaging 13.6 points per game while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.
There is little reason to believe he can’t top that this year.
Lauri Markkanen could find a renaissance season with the Cavs
After losing significant minutes alongside his starting role in Chicago last season, Markkanen can rehabilitate his game with a fresh start in Cleveland and has been vocal about his excitement to begin the new chapter of his career with a new group of guys.
“Everybody is excited to come to work and ready to do their best every night, so it has been really fun,” shared the Finnish forward during the post-scrimmage interviews. “I am acclimating pretty well… I think everybody is just happy to be around each other so that made it a lot easier.”
Together with veteran forward Kevin Love and rookie big man Evan Mobley, the trio could really open up the spacing for the guards to move the ball around more and find the best shots available. He also shows a willingness to further himself from being regarded only as a shooter but as a multi-faceted player.
Even in a backup role to presumptive ‘Tower City’ frontcourt starters Allen and Mobley, Markkannen could still realize his potential as a high ceiling talent that has the ability to reach All-Star level, an outlook that made Chicago select him 7th overall four years ago.
If everything falls into place, this might very well be the season Lauri Markkanen can retrace the steps towards that.