On Thursday morning the NBA released the status of All-Star voting so far, which showed that Lauri Markkanen had the seventh most votes of any Western Conference frontcourt player.
Later in the day, the Utah Jazz posted a video on their social media pages of Walker Kessler stepping in as Markkanen’s campaign manager and handing out Markkanen All-Star gear to his teammates and coaches.
All of the Jazz coaching staff showed up to the arena in Houston on Thursday night wearing their matching Markkanen hoodies, and then Markkanen went off for a career-best 49 points against the Houston Rockets in the Jazz’s 131-114 win.
The Finnisher’s case to make an All-Star team continues to grow with every performance, and Thursday’s game was the cherry on top.
Markkanen won’t take the majority of the credit for his success and thanked his teammates after his 49-point performance.
“My teammates, that’s all it is,” he said in his walk-off interview after the game. “The coaching staff are putting me in great situations to succeed, and my teammates are delivering me the ball and have the trust in me.”
This time, he’s not totally wrong in making sure to give credit to his teammates. Of Markkanen’s 15 made field goals against the Rockets, just one shot was unassisted. That said, the shot was a putback, a quick tip-in off a miss that was assisted by Mike Conley.
Even with Markkanen benefitting from the playmaking and unselfishness of his teammates, that doesn’t take away from how impressive his overall game is.
The 7-footer scores in such a variety of ways and so dynamically that it’s hard not to be impressed.
“We all wear hoodies with his face on it, so you know how we feel about him,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said after the game. “Just spectacular.”
Against Houston, Markkanen hit catch-and-shoot 3s, dunked the ball, caught alley-oop lobs, scored on fadeaways in the midrange and ran the floor in transition.
He’s lethal from the corners, from the top of the arc, in pick-and-roll, as a lob threat and he’s strong enough to battle and score through contact.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s every made basket from Markkanen against the Rockets:
At the end of the night, Markkanen had 49 points on 55.6% shooting overall, 40% from 3 and 100% from the free throw line.
Though it’s not the flashiest part of the game, Markkanen’s consistency of late from the free throw line has been just as impressive as some of the other stuff he’s done.
In the last eight games, Markkanen is 67-of-69 from the free throw line and has made 43 consecutive free throws over the last four games.
Markkanen notched his 10th game this season scoring 30 points or more after having just 15 such games in all of his career before putting on a Jazz uniform.
He’s become a matchup nightmare for opposing teams and he’s turned out to be even better than the Jazz could have hoped for when he was included in the trade that sent Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.