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Lauri Markkanen’s offensive skillset is unlike most seven-footers

Markkanen defines the meaning of stretch-four, or maybe even stretch-five.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Arizona vs Xavier Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NBA Draft will be a busy day for former Pac-12 hoopers. Standout guards Markelle Fultz of Washington and Lonzo Ball of UCLA are expected to go 1-2. DraftExpress also has four more ex-Pac-12 players slotted into the first round in its latest mock draft.

Despite Markelle Fultz’s journey to the top and Lonzo Ball’s “Big Baller Brand” spiel, Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen might be the most intriguing prospect from a pure basketball perspective.

A 7-0, 225-pound Finland native, Markkanen is anticipated to hop off the board anywhere in the top 10 in next month’s draft. He entered the college basketball world as a consensus five-star and helped guide the Arizona Wildcats to a 32-win season in his only year as an amateur.

Markkanen’s skillset, however, is what entices so many analysts and NBA scouts. Despite his mammoth size, Markkanen finished last season as one of the elite three-point shooters in the country. Is this due to a small sample size? Not at all, actually. Markkanen is the first PF/C NBA prospect in the last three seasons to record more made three-pointers than at-rim attempts, according to Hoop-Math’s database.

The following graph displays Lauri Markkanen’s shot selection by distance compared to the average for every PF/C NBA draftee from the past three seasons. The numbers are incredibly unique.

And also in tabular format:

Markkanen vs. Average PF/C NBA Prospect

Comparison Markkanen 2014-16 Avg
Comparison Markkanen 2014-16 Avg
Height (in) 84 81.8
FGA at rim 95 145.1
FG at rim 66 102.5
FGA 2PJ 118 139.6
FG 2PJ 50 55.5
FGA 3P 163 34.7
FG 3P 69 12.1
FGA Prox 0.18 -0.37
FG Prox 0.02 -0.54

Here is the entire list of NBA power forward and center draftees since 2014:

Lauri Markkanen vs. 2014-16 PF/C NBA Prospects

Name Draft Year Height (in) FGA at rim FG at rim FGA 2PJ FG 2PJ FGA 3P FG 3P FGA Prox FG Prox
Name Draft Year Height (in) FGA at rim FG at rim FGA 2PJ FG 2PJ FGA 3P FG 3P FGA Prox FG Prox
Lauri Markkanen 2017 84 95 66 118 50 163 69 0.18 0.02
Taurean Prince 2016 79 110 71 170 62 140 48 0.07 -0.13
Alec Brown 2014 85 103 66 144 57 100 42 -0.01 -0.15
Henry Ellenson 2016 82 113 71 218 93 104 30 -0.02 -0.21
Myles Turner 2015 83 60 43 131 56 61 17 0 -0.22
Adreian Payne 2014 82 125 85 125 49 104 44 -0.06 -0.23
Georges Niang 2016 80 164 126 211 101 143 56 -0.04 -0.25
Josh Huestis 2014 79 96 66 173 64 77 26 -0.05 -0.26
Ben Bentil 2016 80 202 127 173 67 158 52 -0.08 -0.3
Frank Kaminsky 2015 84 200 140 187 85 101 42 -0.2 -0.37
Skal Labissiere 2016 83 55 37 133 61 2 0 -0.28 -0.38
Marquese Chriss 2016 81 146 100 132 58 60 21 -0.25 -0.44
Johnny O'Bryant 2014 81 129 89 267 107 2 1 -0.32 -0.45
Pascal Siakim 2016 81 137 66 135 70 15 3 -0.43 -0.45
Larry Nance Jr 2015 80 121 99 197 72 42 14 -0.22 -0.46
Dwight Powell 2014 82 138 90 202 75 39 10 -0.26 -0.46
Cory Jefferson 2014 81 158 105 172 65 38 14 -0.33 -0.49
Trey Lyles 2015 82 86 64 125 49 29 4 -0.24 -0.51
Bobby Portis 2015 83 191 144 245 92 30 14 -0.35 -0.52
Brice Johnson 2016 81 160 140 275 127 0 0 -0.37 -0.52
Cheick Diallo 2016 81 23 17 35 16 0 0 -0.4 -0.52
Mitch McGary 2014 82 22 16 31 14 2 0 -0.36 -0.53
Joel Bolomboy 2016 81 167 125 115 48 55 20 -0.33 -0.54
Kevon Looney 2015 81 167 103 101 26 53 22 -0.36 -0.54
Jordan Mickey 2015 80 156 105 214 85 9 1 -0.39 -0.54
Aaron White 2015 81 161 117 108 33 59 21 -0.31 -0.56
Stephen Zimmerman 2016 84 105 62 92 35 17 5 -0.41 -0.56
Karl-Anthony Towns 2015 83 111 84 137 59 8 2 -0.4 -0.57
Noah Vonleh 2014 82 135 80 48 17 33 16 -0.47 -0.57
Chinanu Onuaku 2016 82 106 78 114 59 1 0 -0.48 -0.57
Cameron Bairstow 2014 81 199 138 224 98 3 1 -0.46 -0.58
Aaron Gordon 2014 81 177 129 160 44 45 16 -0.35 -0.6
Richaun Holmes 2015 80 160 110 79 31 41 16 -0.43 -0.6
Jarell Martin 2015 82 201 138 144 50 52 14 -0.38 -0.61
Rakeem Christmas 2015 81 177 124 189 79 1 0 -0.48 -0.61
Julius Randle 2014 81 180 126 194 67 18 3 -0.41 -0.63
Chris McCullough 2015 82 59 35 53 18 1 1 -0.51 -0.63
AJ Hammons 2016 84 131 114 79 51 11 6 -0.54 -0.63
Jarnell Stokes 2014 80 184 127 191 72 0 0 -0.49 -0.64
Montrezl Harrell 2015 80 183 148 156 56 37 9 -0.39 -0.65
Domantas Sabonis 2016 82 224 161 153 73 14 5 -0.54 -0.65
Damian Jones 2016 82 164 123 145 61 3 0 -0.52 -0.67
Diamond Stone 2016 83 162 119 132 48 0 0 -0.55 -0.71
Dakari Johnson 2015 84 89 57 67 22 0 0 -0.57 -0.72
Ben Simmons 2016 82 210 158 173 57 3 1 -0.54 -0.73
Deyonta Davis 2016 82 122 87 77 32 0 0 -0.61 -0.73
Willie Cauley-Stein 2015 84 143 104 93 31 0 0 -0.61 -0.77
Joel Embiid 2014 84 114 87 52 19 5 1 -0.64 -0.8
Cady Lalanne 2015 82 171 116 61 19 18 3 -0.61 -0.82
Jahlil Okafor 2015 83 260 199 93 25 0 0 -0.74 -0.89
Jakob Poeltl 2016 84 300 208 53 20 0 0 -0.85 -0.91

Markkanen has drawn heavy comparisons by NBA scouts to current Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki. A German seven-footer, Nowitzki has converted 1,780 three-pointers in his 19-year career. He also leads all active NBA players in field goals made, free throws made, defensive rebounds and points.

Time will tell if Markkanen will be able to carry over his deep shooting talents to the NBA level, but NBA pundits are already oozing over his potential. Despite the movement towards sharp-shooting forwards and centers in today’s NBA, Markkanen is still a unique talent that is a once-in-a-generation player.

Fresh off one of the most efficient freshmen seasons in college basketball history (1.30 points per possession and 58.4% eFG%), Markkanen is an offensive threat that can score at all three levels. Assuming Markkanen is drafted by an organization that can continue to develop his skills, there is reason to believe that Markkanen could be a force in the NBA for quite a long time.

Do you believe the Lauri Markkanen hype? Leave a comment below or send a tweet to @boettger_eli and @PacificTakes.

(Statistics used in this article are courtesy of Hoop-Math)