Sports tweeters enjoy using the word “vintage” when an older player soars the way he might’ve in his youth. Vince Carter and Derrick Rose are most commonly associated with the word. Therefore, I use it in jest for 21-year old Lauri Markkanen. But, many a truth is said in jest. Last night he played with the fire of 2017-2018 rookie Markkanen. Right from the get go he was driving to the hoop, getting up shots and running the floor with purpose. Reminded me, at points, of the time he absolutely dominated Kristaps Porzingis at Madison Square Garden. This performance wasn’t nearly as superstarry, although you saw those moments when the Nets couldn’t do anything to slow him. Superstar stuff. The rookie-year dunk over Porzingis will be tough to ever top, but the Finnisher threw down a couple power jams last night – one off a smooth lob from Wayne Selden Jr. and the other courtesy of a timely pass from Zach LaVine, who hit a full-court sprinting Markkanen in stride. Lauri caught the ball in the lane while traversing the defense and hammered it home. He ended up with 18 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. Lauri’s a good rebounder. Robin Lopez is a world-class box-out man and I think Lauri’s rebound totals are helped by the veteran big man. But any which way, 19 boards is a big time stat. The Markksman also hit 3 long balls, becoming the first Bull to ever hit at least 3 threes in 8 straight games. Unfortunately for the team, Brooklyn came away with a close victory. But this seems like the current Bulls best path to glory. Play off Lauri. Let him lead with LaVine as your #2. The 7-footer has superstar DNA. Maybe he just needed to remember what it’s like to be the man.
Bulls are blessed with fortunate scheduling, they’ll be in Miami tonight, avoiding -15 degree temps at home. Let Lauri lead and let’s get one!