Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen is playing some of the best basketball of his career, a major part of why the Jazz are 9-3 and sit atop the NBA’s Western Conference.
Through 12 games this season, Markkanen is averaging 21.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. His defense has also been much-improved.
Prior to the season, he competed in Eurobasket, averaging 28 points per game for Finland.
Markkanen sat down with Stadium’s Shams Charania to talk about the Jazz’s hot start to the season.
Here are some highlights from the conversation:
On tanking chatter around the NBA regarding the Jazz:
“It definitely feeds us. We hate to see that every morning that when we win, we see that, oh it’s a surprise and whatever. So we use that as our motivation and just try to keep this thing going and stack up more wins and prove people wrong.”
On getting traded to Utah:
“Unexpected. It was a shock. It took me a couple hours to kind of process and just really think about what’s gonna happen. But then the kinda things calm down and you get around the idea that you’re moving to Utah and then I’m just excited for the opportunity. You see the guys that they have and the staff that they have. So I think just pretty quickly turned into what we can do with this group of guys.”
On making the All-Star Game, which is in Utah this year:
“I’ve always said that that’s one of my personal goals to eventually make it. And I’m not looking into that 10 games in but it’s definitely a goal of mine to make it and that fuels me every night I go out there.”
On his Eurobasket experience:
“Just going against some of the best guys in the world and showing that you can do it there and that tells me that I could do it over here as well. It was a big mental thing obviously, but then same time, playing competitive basketball and World Cup qualifiers and Eurobasket the whole summer, knowing that I’m gonna be coming the training in the best shape of my life. So it was both mental and physical that kind prepared me for the year.”