Being named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career, Lauri Markkanen is beyond grateful to attain the accomplishment in his season of rebirth with the Utah Jazz.
But upon landing in his new home, the Finnish forward already positioned his belief that he can reach greater heights.
“I had a high level of confidence coming in, especially after the summer I had,” Markkanen said, per Tony Jones of The Athletic. “I didn’t specifically write down All-Star as one of my goals, but I wanted to take things day by day and stay in the moment. I wanted to do what it takes to get wins and build this thing with this team.
“So, All-Star didn’t really cross my mind. But I came in here ready to work and ready to do what it takes every day.”
Markkanen landed in Utah as part of a lucrative package that sent All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With a new place in front of him, he gained significant room to develop and reach his full potential.
As such, Markkanen seized every ounce of opportunity as the Jazz’s newest franchise star. He is averaging a career-best 24.9 points and 8.7 boards. He also lights out from the field, shooting 52.0 percent in all areas. With him the focal point of the team, Utah defied expectations of rebuilding and rode the seventh-best record in the West with a 27-27 card.
These enhanced numbers fortified Markkanen to be honored to play in front of the proud Salt Lake City crowd on Feb. 19, as he is planning to put on a show.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Markkanen continued. “I’m here, and that’s the biggest thing. And I kind of had to go through that stuff to get here.”