The Phoenix Suns should work out a trade for Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Lauri Markkanen (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns need to upgrade at power forward and the name that keeps popping up as a target is Lauri Markkanen. James Jones should make it happen.

Since the departure of Amar’e Stoudemire in the summer of 2010, the Phoenix Suns have been searching for a high-quality power forward, and with some talk of Lauri Markkanen being a good fit, you wonder if the Suns try to land him this summer.

Lauri Markkanen was drafted with the 7th pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2017 NBA Draft before immediately being sent to the Chicago Bulls in a trade that involved Zach LaVine. Markkanen’s time in Chicago has been up and down, but you can still see the amazing potential he has, even if it means he’s not on the road to superstardom.

Let’s start with the positives. First off, Lauri is 7 feet tall and plays power forward, which would provide amazing length next to Deandre Ayton.

One aspect of his game that goes under the radar is his rebounding. For his career, Markkanen averages 6.3 rebounds and even averaged nine rebounds in his sophomore season. This season, the Suns ranked 22nd in rebounds with 43.1 per game, and adding a solid big who can grab boards would definitely help in that category.

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The best aspect of Markkanen’s game is his shooting from deep. He is a career 35% shooter from 3 and attempted 6.3 3-point shots per game this season, which would place him first in that category for the Suns. While Markkanen is not a great inside presence like Barkley and Stoudemire were for Phoenix, he is a solid big man and would definitely bring something to the desert that the Suns desperately lack.

Now onto the negatives. The obvious knock on him is the injuries. Lauri has played in a total of 170 games throughout his three seasons out of the 229 games that he could’ve been a part of.

His defense has also been called into question. Despite being a 7-footer and being taller than the average competition at his position, Markkanen has never averaged a full block in a season. Much like Deandre Ayton on the Phoenix Suns, Lauri’s own fan base has had a lot to say about his defense, whether it’s his intensity on D, his ability to block shots, or just staying attached to his matchup, improvement is definitely needed in that department, and maybe a change of scenery would help him out.

It is pretty clear that Lauri Markkanen would be a huge upgrade at power forward for Phoenix and he would fit well with the Suns’ core four (Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr), but do the Suns even go for him? Suns fans have praised the starting lineup of the Suns core four plus Ricky Rubio and so has Phoenix Suns general manager, James Jones, so you wonder if the Suns want to shake that up by going and getting a new starting power forward.

In order to obtain him, they might have to part ways with Mikal Bridges, one of their core four.

Zach Buckley of the Bleacher Report recently suggested the following swap:

Giving up Bridges, a first-round pick, and Ty Jerome, who the Suns just selected in the first round last year would be a lot for Markkanen. The Suns might be able to get him for less, although a first-round draft pick would have to be involved.

Just like the Suns, the Bulls have had their struggles with the NBA Draft. They traded All-Star Jimmy Butler away for Zach LaVine and the pick that became Lauri Markkanen, drafted Kris Dunn in hopes to be their point guard of the future, and then selected point guard, Coby White, the next year to try again.

Phoenix could give the Bulls an extra shot at landing a nice piece for their young team while not giving up a huge asset in a particularly starless draft, all the while receiving a quality player in return to hopefully fulfill their goals of making the postseason.

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Editor’s note: In a previous version of this article, the word “should” was inadvertently omitted from one of the headlines, making it read somewhat deceptively. This was an unintentional mistake and was not meant to cause confusion. Our apologies.