Despite the numbers, Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen isn’t concerned with his play
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If something felt off, Lauri Markkanen would be a bit more concerned.
If the Bulls’ second-year big man was picking up a mechanical flaw in his shot while watching film, or a disturbance in his balance, he would correct it.
But that’s something he hasn’t had to worry about.
Yes, Markkanen acknowledged that his numbers have been down in the last six games, especially in the efficiency department, and he even said that he might have to re-examine his aggressiveness lately.
But he’s not concerned about it.
“I’ve been doing the same stuff,’’ Markkanen said. “I know it will turn around. I acknowledge that I’m not playing like I was in February, but I’m going to keep working the way I do every day because everything feels the same. It’s just not going in right now. I thought every [shot taken] was going in. They felt good out of my hand. Of course, it’s not fun when they are not going in. But I know it will turn around and I will take the same shots.’’
Markkanen’s comment about his performance in February did speak volumes, especially since he claims he’s not worried about his numbers.
The 7-footer, however, couldn’t ignore what he did last month, averaging 26 points and 12.2 rebounds while shooting just under 49 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three-point range.
In that 11-game span, the Bulls went 5-6, showing just how important an active Markkanen is to the results.
He started off March on fire, scoring 31 points in the four-overtime win in Atlanta. But then he hit a wall.
Markkanen hasn’t hit the 20-point mark in any of his last six games, averaging just 15 points during that stretch, while shooting 34 percent from the field and a dismal 23 percent from behind the three-point line.
The concerning number, though, is the rebounds.
He’s averaging just 7.8 rebounds since the March 3 loss to the Hawks. The Bulls are 1-5 since then.
And it’s not just a coincidence.
Markkanen’s aggressiveness on the boards at the end of January was what jump-started his game to the next level. He has moved away from that and knows it needs to be addressed.
So does coach Jim Boylen.
“To say something is wrong with him I think would be premature and not correct,’’ Boylen said. “To say that we need him to play better for us to have a chance to win is the way to say it.
‘‘Whether it’s rebounding the ball and bringing it up, which he needs to do more of. When he was playing well, he was doing more of that. He needs to make open shots. Talking about Lauri, he makes one or two of those threes at the appropriate time, it may flip the game. So we need him to do that.’’
The good news for Markkanen is that he might get some help soon.
Zach LaVine, who has missed the last two games with a right patellar tendon strain, took full contact in practice Wednesday, and as long as there are no setbacks he could return Friday against the Clippers.
It’s a far cry from the news Monday, when it sounded like LaVine could miss the rest of the season.
Forward Otto Porter (left knee contusion) missed practice but will be re-evaluated Thursday.