Lauri Markkanen gives rebuilding Bulls a player who 'fits in today's NBA'

Lauri Markkanen gives rebuilding Bulls a player who 'fits in today's NBA'

The Bulls haven't been shy about adding shooting in the NBA Draft in recent years. But never quite like this.

After completing a blockbuster deal that sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Bulls used the No. 7 pick to select Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen during Thursday’s NBA Draft. The move signaled the first of what’s sure to be many steps as the Bulls rebuild a roster that was unable to compete with Butler, a three-time All-Star, leading the way.

That process is beginning with an elite shooter at a premium position. In a draft dominated early by point guards and small forwards, the 7-foot Markkanen was the first power forward selected.

The Finnish sharpshooter represents a new wave of sought-after big men. In addition to the 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds he averaged as a freshman at Arizona, he connected on better than 42 percent of his 3-pointers. He made 69 3-pointers and grabbed 266 rebounds, joining Texas’ Kevin Durant as the only two freshmen since 1992 to reach those thresholds.

Markkanen was one of a record 16 freshman selected in the first round on Thursday, and certainly fits the mold of the Bulls getting younger and more athletic.

“Lauri Markkanen is a very good basketball player. We’re really excited about his potential,” Bulls VP John Paxson said after the draft. “Maybe as good a shooter that was in the draft this year. And the way our game is going, those big, mobile guys that can space the floor give your guards opportunity to create and find gaps.”

It's an issue that plagued the Bulls last season. Inconsistencies from Nikola Mirotic, a restricted free agent who Paxson hinted the Bulls will bring back next season, and Bobby Portis left the Bulls without much in the way of floor spacing, with Robin Lopez's ability to make shots from 15 to 17 feet out the only real frontcourt threat on the perimeter.

The Bulls attempted the second fewest 3-pointers per game and were 24th in 3-point field goal percentage last year, so adding a piece in Markkanen will only improve on those numbers.

Because the trade that sent Butler and the No. 16 pick to Minnesota in exchange for that No. 7 pick as well as Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn came about so abruptly, Markkanen admitted he didn't have much contact with the Bulls during the pre-draft process.

Markkanen was aware of the blockbuster deal involving Butler and the Timberwolves, so he knew he was heading to Chicago even after commissioner Adam Silver announced his name and he put on a Minnesota Timberwolves hat. The trade wasn't finalized by the NBA for about 90 minutes.

"I'm really honored to be a part of this organization," he said. "I can't wait to go there and do what I can. It's just a blessing to be here. And of course Michael Jordan, the greatest player ever to play, so it's huge to be a part of it."

Markkanen said he'll be in the weight room this summer and knows he'll need to work on his defense, but what he adds to the Bulls and how it fits in today's NBA made him the Bulls' target after they agreed to the Butler trade.

"He’s mobile, he’s got a motor, he’s a worker," Paxson said. "And we just thought he was at that spot was gonna be a fit for the direction we’re headed and a guy that fits with how we want to build this team and fits in today’s NBA."

NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules


NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

After much discussion over whether or not the NBA should impose harsher penalties on teams for breaking the anti-tampering rules, an official decision has been made. The NBA Board of Governors passed a much more strict set of rules that will force teams to be compliant with the anti-tampering rules.

Among the new measures, the league will be selecting five teams per year that will undergo a "random audit", the maximum amount for a fine related to tampering has been raised to $10 million and team officials are required to save communications with agents for one full year.

The league will also retain the right to take the communication devices of owners if it is deemed necessary in investigations, though it has been stated that it is not something that Adam Silver wants to rely on moving forward. 

Though concrete details have not been released, possible punishments for tampering will reportedly include taking away draft picks, the voiding of contracts and more.

This is all in an attempt to create a more "even playing field" amid the belief that small-market teams are at a disadvantage when it comes to player movement. The new rules sound great but there is already fear among NBA GMs when it comes to how their privacy will be affected with this being a clear area of focus for the league. 

Along with the new, harsher tampering penalties, the league also announced that they have changed the language regarding traveling calls to "address the uncertainty around traveling." Another new rule announced was that teams are now required to announce their starting lineups at least 30 minutes before tipoff as opposed to 10 minutes, in an effort to "increase transparency for teams, media and fans." Teams will still be allowed to change their lineups up to the last minute if a player gets hurt in pregame warmups. 

All of the new anti-tampering rules approved by the league on Friday were a response to this wild NBA offseason we just experienced. There were many deals agreed to right at the start of free agency, such as the Bulls with Thaddeus Young, and the timing of those deals had many owners wanting the league to make tampering a greater focus. To a greater extent, moves like Anthony Davis forcing his way to the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard orchestrating he and Paul George's move to the Clippers are what got this package of anti-tampering measures passed.

Adam Silver has picked up a reputation as an NBA Commissioner who is very willing to listen to new ideas and make changes, and Friday's events support that reputation as he and the league continue to look for the best ways to get NBA teams to be in compliance with the anti-tampering rules. 

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?


Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

The Jonas Brothers are in Chicago for concerts that are taking place on Thursday and Friday night, and they have enjoyed quite a week. This week the trio has enjoyed a nice golf outing at Village Links in Glen Ellyn, had some quality BBQ at Bub City and even got the amazing opportunity to play a touch football game at Soldier Field. But one particular Bulls guard is looking to add another fun experience to their Chicago trip.

The Bulls organization welcomed the Jonas Brothers to the city with a set of custom jerseys for the trio and their significant others and that's when Ryan Arcidiacono chimed in with his offer. 

Since the Jonas Brothers have already got to play some football on the actual Soldier Field grass, Arci figured they might as well keep the Chicago sports-themed fun going and shoot some hoops with him. 

Now, Arcidiacono didn't make it clear whether or not he was offering for the Jonas Brother to get some shots up with him at the United Center, where their shows take place on Thursday and Friday night. But, either way, his time is running out as they will be moving on to Jackson County, MO for their next stop on tour on September 21.

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