On Lauri Markkannen Dominating At EuroBasket And Finding Money In Bad Trades

In the midst of college football roaring back into our sporting lives throughout the week, I kept noticing all of Basketball Twitter buzzing with frenzy. Why aren't these dudes enjoying vacation? The insanity of the NBA season had finally come to a bit of a crawl now that Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics was officially real. Yet, across the pond in Europe, a rising star has dominated all basketball discussions and become a fixation on what could be next.

His name is Lauri Markkannen, and he's been wrecking shop for Finland in FIBA's Eurobasket tournament.

Sure, any fan of the Chicago Bulls could read these upcoming words with all the sodium in their soul, so let's get this out the way right now. The Bulls got fleeced in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Giving up an injured Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the eventual Markkanen pick for arguably the best shooting guard in the league? That's all peanuts, and we know it.

However, the Finnish phenom has begun to show the world that his scoring prowess is real, and he's still unlocking his game in ways he couldn't at the University of Arizona. Any Bulls fan has to at least raise an eyebrow that their lottery pick is yielding results on a mid-tier (at best) Finland squad. Through three games, he’s averaging 24.3 points on 56 percent shooting and hauled in 7.7 rebounds in just 29 minutes a contest. Oh, and he's 54 percent from three-point range thus far against teams France, Slovenia and Poland, all littered with NBA and EuroLeague talent. (All stats via FIBA)

Can Lauri Markkannen help turn things around in Chicago? (Photo by Norbert Barczyk/Press Focus/MB Media)

His performance in the tournament has led to inevitable comparison every tall, white, European player with a jumper gets. "He's the next Dirk Nowitzki." Finland's current coach, Henrik Dettman, once coached Nowitzki when he led the German national team form 1997-2004. So let's take his perspective on the matter, via Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net.

"You see how special he is when he plays. It is unfair to compare human beings. But now we talk about players from a different era. There is a lot of similarities in their games. The only thing we don't know is if Lauri will have the same work ethic Dirk has had. If he has then he will definitely reach the same level. He has skills, speed and understanding of the game." -- Henrik Dettmann comparing Lauri Markkanen with Dirk Nowitzki

There have been plenty of trades that looked lopsided when initially executed, but after the smoke clears, you realize that the long-term play can be good for both sides. No one knew what Marc Gasol would end up being when he was traded by the Lakers for his brother Pau Gasol to the Memphis Grizzlies. Oklahoma City Thunder fans may never forgive the organization for trading James Harden to the Houston Rockets, but the draft pick they received in return turned into Steven Adams, who OKC now views as a foundation piece to their future.

Could Markkannen become a foundation setting big man? Time will ultimately tell, but if you're looking for the right online sports betting site for your NBA betting on the Chicago Bulls, we know where you should go. The reality is, Markkanen's winning at Eurobasket by leveraging his impressively long frame, as the competition there is good but not quite NBA level. However, he’s leading an undermanned Finnish team and finding success for himself and the team. Fred Hoiberg's going to love his shooting ability, and the Bulls are dying for someone to step up as a new leader in their locker room.

For Bulls fans, starting over with a player who can actually play is all you can ask for at this point.

Related: The Day An 18-Year Old Dirk Nowitzki Gave Scottie Pippen 52 Points, As Told By Charles Barkley

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