Lauri Markkanen named to first All-Star team
Feb 2, 2023, 5:30 PM | Updated: Feb 3, 2023, 12:03 pm
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY – Lauri Markkanen will represent the Utah Jazz in front of a home crowd after being selected to his first All-Star team.
Markkanen was selected by the 30 NBA coaches as one of seven reserves out of the Western Conference.
The Finnish big man is in the midst of a standout year with the Jazz averaging a career-high 24.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 43 percent from three.
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Markkanen is only the second player from Finland to reach the NBA, joining former University of Utah star Hanno Möttölä, and the first to earn an All-Star nod.
The Jazz acquired Markkanen along with guard Collin Sexton, and significant draft compensation in exchange for Donovan Mitchell in September.
The former seventh overall pick out of Arizona, Markkanen begin his career with the Chicago Bulls before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2021.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 3, 2023
After just one season in Cleveland, Markkanen joined the Jazz and quickly assumed the starring role in Mitchell’s absence.
The versatile forward has elevated his game since the Jazz began his All-Star campaign in December. Markkanen has scored 20 points or more in 19 straight games, becoming just the fourth player in Jazz history to do so.
Markkanen’s true breakout happened before even joining the Jazz. Last summer the forward was one of the top players at the FIBA EuroBasket tournament averaging 27.9 points and 8.1 rebounds while leaving Finland to the Quarterfinals.
“When I seen him playing at [EuroBasket], I thought he was going to be an All-Star honestly coming in here. That was my expectation, I didn’t expect nothing less.”
After trading Mitchell and Rudy Gobert during the offseason, the Jazz were expected to enter a long rebuild process. However, Markkanen’s rapid progression along with the hiring of head coach Will Hardy has greatly accelerated the Jazz timeline.
“Lauri’s done such a good job of continuing to work on different ways that can impact the game offensively,” Hardy said of Markkanen’s growth. “He’s shown the ability to shoot the ball but I think the physicality that he’s played with driving the ball, and the physicality that he’s played with as a screener that has given him an opportunity to score in a variety of ways.”
Markkanen’s selection marks four consecutive seasons that the Jazz have had an All-Stars, and the eigth All-Star nod over the last four years.
Both Mitchell and Gobert were named to the previous three All-Star teams as members of the Jazz, while Mike Conley was chosen as a reserve in 2021.
The All-Star game will be held at Vivint Arena on February 19. Jazz rookie Walker Kessler was also selected to represent the team in the Rising Stars Challenge.