There’s enough pressure anyway in being an NBA rookie, particularly one entering a rebuilding situation. Markkanen has to learn the league, master living in a new city, study a new system, figure how to play multiple positions.
Nevertheless, given that Butler is a proven All-Star who, barring injury, will remain among the game’s elite two-way players for the Timberwolves, how Markkanen plays as the Bulls embark upon a full rebuild will determine a lot.
Perhaps it’s best then for the soft-spoken 20-year-old to focus on the simple stuff first.
“I know how to get (to the Advocate Center) and the United Center and get to the apartment after that,” Markannen said when asked about living in Chicago. “I haven’t had a chance to go look around or anything. But I’m not here for sightseeing.”
That last sentence is one that even the hard-driving Butler would approve. Butler sought teammates to push themselves, work out constantly and take their jobs seriously. Soft-spoken or not, Markkanen has shown flashes of those qualities early.
“I’m just trying to learn as much as possible,” Markkanen said.
That has included playing both the power forward position he played in his lone season at Arizona and minutes at center alongside Nikola Mirotic as coach Fred Hoiberg is seeking shooting-oriented lineups. Markannen shot the ball far more efficiently for Finland at this offseason’s EuroBasket than he did for the Bulls during summer league.
The former even featured Markkanen backing down smaller defenders in the post and shooting one-legged fadeaway jumpers over them, a la … forget it. Markkanen downplays any Dirk Nowitzki comparisons, as he should.
One’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Markkanen is trying to win a starting spot in a…