What was once an optimistic preview for the Bulls 2nd-year star in the making turned grim after one practice. The Bulls announced Saturday that Lauri Markkanen sustained a right elbow injury, with an MRI showing a high grade lateral elbow sprain. The injury is said to keep him out around two months. A devastating blow for this Bulls team that holds optimism for this season, especially for their sharpshooting power forward.
Markkanen’s offseason was a busy one. Lauri played for the Finnish National Team, propelling the team to the next stage in the FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers in Europe. After a couple weeks playing for the national team, Lauri put in some offseason work in the weight room for the upcoming NBA season. And did he did WORK. According to Markkanen, he put on 17 pounds of muscle in his ongoing effort of becoming a larger presence in the post and on the boards. The critics who said that the 7-footer was lanky and boney have now come to eat their words. I mean look at him!
Before the injury, GarPax as well as many hopeful Bulls fans expected that Lauri would make the leap to a go-to superstar for this team. It’s evident that the best way for this Bulls team to improve drastically is to make Lauri Markkanen the primary option on offense. Of course, with the extension of Zach LaVine and the signing of Jabari Parker, two ball-heavy scorers, it’s tough to imagine Markkanen getting the touches he needs to become a “Number One.” It’ll be interesting to see how Hoiberg re-constructs the offense to give Lauri the ball in not only pressure situations but also on a consistent basis.
Last year, Markkanen averaged 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, on 43.4% shooting from the field and 36.2% from beyond the arc. I went as far to say that Lauri would become a 20-10 guy and make his first all-star game this year in a conference thats relatively thin on star power forwards. With the injury, this definitely throws a wrench into the Bulls plan as well as the aspirations of Lauri becoming an all star.
Again, there has been general optimism in the type of progress Lauri Markkanen can make in becoming a superstar. The shocking injury on the first day of practice doesn’t deter it, rather delays it for two months. Lauri will be back. Bigger, stronger, faster, better.
Photos via Getty Images and Associated Press