The Dallas Mavericks are considering taking a 7-foot sharpshooting power forward from another country who is deadly in the pick-and-roll in next month’s NBA draft.
And yes, that player is being compared to Mavericks superstar power forward Dirk Nowitzki.
Lauri Markkanen is the player whom ESPN college basketball analyst and international expert Fran Fraschilla believes the Mavericks have targeted in the draft if they decide to select a power forward. Unless they move up in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, the Mavericks will have the ninth pick in the June 22 NBA draft.
Markkanen, who is from Finland, played just one season at Arizona before declaring for the NBA draft. He has raw potential, much as Nowitzki had when he was the ninth pick out of Germany in the 1998 NBA draft.
Fraschilla said the Mavericks “are probably hoping” that Markkanen falls to nine.
“It’s a major trade-off with him, because offensively, at 7 feet tall — and I think he’s going to turn 20 [on May 22] — is his ability to shoot the ball is off the charts.
“He’s an absolutely 10-plus kid.”
At Arizona, Markkanen averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game. The 255-pound “stretch four” also shot 49.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent on 3-point attempts while being named third-team All-American.
Markkanen met and talked to Nowitzki before the Mavericks’ game in Phoenix on April 9. If the Mavs draft Markkanen, he may eventually replace Nowitzki, who is set to play next season and possibly one more before retiring.
“People I know have just watched a workout [of Markkanen] earlier in the week, and they’ve raved about him,” Fraschilla said. “But the defensive issues are going to be prominent.
“But he is a kid — he cares. So the comparisons to Dirk are going to be unfair, but he’s going to be there.”