Giannis Antetokounmpo used the last pick to select Lauri Markkanen to his NBA All-Star team Sunday, in what turned out to be one of the the only moments of suspense in an otherwise light-hearted and entertaining event at Markkanen’s new home of Salt Lake City.
Despite being picked last in the All-Star Game live draft, the Utah Jazz star earned starting minutes for Team Giannis, which won 184-175 behind 55 points from Jayson Tatum. Markkanen had 13 points on 6-13 shooting, with most of scoring coming via acrobatic dunks.
Markkanen, a former All-America at Arizona is 2017, participated in his first All-Star Game. It was all the more special that the game was played in Utah, where Markkanen leads the Jazz with 24.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
“Pretty surreal. I was excited to get out there,” Markkanen said after the game. “It’s a great experience to be a part of. I can’t wait to be here again.”
“Pretty surreal. This is what we were waiting for.” pic.twitter.com/qpVelRH1ip— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) February 20, 2023
Markkanen started alongside Antetokounmpo, Tatum, Ja Morant, and former Jazz point guard turned Cleveland Cavalier Donovan Mitchell. Markkanen was traded from the Cavaliers to the Jazz this past summer in the deal that sent Mitchell to Cleveland.
Markkanen displayed impressive hops in his 26 minutes on the court, giving the home crowd something to cheer over.
Former Gonzaga product Domantas Sabonis added six points for Team Giannis off the bench. Sabonis, who is in his first year on the Sacramento Kings, was one of Tommy Lloyd’s top international recruits at Gonzaga.
Lloyd said after Arizona’s win over Colorado Saturday that he would be in attendance to support Markkanen and Sabonis.
Earlier Sunday, ex-Arizona guard Gabe York competed in the NBA G League Next Man Up game, scoring eight points to go with four rebounds and two steals. York plays for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Former Wildcats star Bennedict Mathurin competed in the NBA Rising Stars game Friday, scoring 14 points along with two rebounds, two assists and a steal.