Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen is voted to NBA All-Rookie first team
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Late in the Bulls’ season, forward Lauri Markkanen said he deserved to be in the Rookie of the Year conversation. He achieved a different honor Tuesday.
Markkanen was voted to the NBA All-Rookie first team, joining unanimous picks Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz and Ben Simmons of the 76ers, as well as Jayson Tatum of the Celtics and Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers.
Tatum fell one vote shy of being a unanimous selection, and Kuzma finished with 93 first-team votes on the 100 ballots. Markkanen got 76 votes.
It’s not a bad class to be in. Markkanen, the seventh overall selection in the 2017 draft, averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds as a rookie and became the fastest player in NBA history to make 100 three-pointers, achieving the milestone in 41 games.
Markkanen finished tied for fourth among rookies in scoring and was second in rebounding.
Rookie of the Year is expected to be a two-man race between Mitchell and Simmons, but that doesn’t mean the confident Markkanen shouldn’t be in the debate. Just ask him.
‘‘If I couldn’t vote for myself, I think it would be between Ben and Donovan,’’ Markkanen said in March.
Markkanen even took it a step further, saying that because Simmons was drafted in 2016 and missed his rookie season with an injury, he shouldn’t qualify for the award.
‘‘I wouldn’t count him as a rookie because he had the year of NBA experience, even though he didn’t play,’’ Markkanen said. ‘‘But he is counted, so I guess there’s nothing to do about that. He doesn’t play like a rookie.’’
As far as how this rookie class eventually will measure up to those of seasons past, Markkanen said the sky is the limit.
‘‘It’s not just like the top 10 picks are playing well,’’ Markkanen said. ‘‘There’s a bunch of guys playing well. It’s pretty cool to be a part of that class.’’