Military Markkanen


Cole Cleveland, Reporter

Lauri Markkanen was born in Vantaa, Finland and grew up in Jyväskylä, Finland where he played as a part of multiple top tier Finnish basketball teams. Standing at a massive 7 feet tall and having a great shooting ability, Markkanen was coveted by colleges all over the U.S. He would eventually commit to the University of Arizona Wildcats for the 2016-2017 season. He would be selected as a Third Team All-American and declared for the NBA Draft after just one season in college. Lauri was selected 7th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves but was traded to the Chicago Bulls that same night.

After 4 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Markkanen was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers as a part of a three-team trade. He would go on to have an above average season, averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds per game. Shortly thereafter, Markkanen would be traded again during the following offseason to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz were looking to rebuild with young talent, and this gave Lauri his chance to shine. 

In just one season with the Utah Jazz, Lauri Markkanen won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. However, instead of celebrating this achievement with his team, he was celebrating it back home in Finland. Finland requires all males to perform their military service before the age of 30. He has yet to fulfill his service and saw this summer as his best opportunity to do so after the Jazz missed the NBA Playoffs, saying “I just figured if we’re not going to playing in the postseason this year, then it’s going to be a good time to do it now, instead of just postponing it and then eventually having to do it in a time that wouldn’t work so well for me.” 

It is unclear what Lauri’s time in the military will have him doing but he and his agent have stated that he intends to play for the Utah Jazz in the 2023-2024 season and to represent Finland in the FIBA World Cup this summer and that he does not want his service to interfere with his professional basketball career.