Lauri Markkanen may not think his game is similar to Kristaps Porzingis’, but the New York Knicks appear to disagree.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported Tuesday that the Knicks are “weighing the possibility” of trading Porzingis and selecting Markkanen with the No. 8 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft to replace him.
“To that possibility, Jackson had a dinner meeting with Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen on Monday night in New York,” Wojnarowski wrote.
Porzingis, a 7-foot-3 big man from Latvia, was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and has had two standout seasons with the Knicks so far.
The 21-year-old averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks while shooting 45 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from 3 this past season, cementing himself as one of the top young players in the game.
So, why are the Knicks considering moving him?
For one, Porzingis skipped his season-ending exit meeting due to frustration about “the level of dysfunction within the franchise”, and because the Knicks are “determined to acquire a frontline guard, something that a trade for Porzingis could gain for them,” per Wojnarowski.
Markkanen, who will be in attendance for Thursday’s draft in Brooklyn, is projected to be selected in the 5-10 range, so it’s possible he will still be on the board when the Knicks are on the clock with the 8th pick.
That said, DraftExpress.com projects Markkanen will be selected 7th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Markkanen, 20, averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his lone season with the Arizona Wildcats.
The 7-footer from Finland shot 49 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3, and 84 percent from the free throw line. Many believe Markkanen is a better shooter than Porzingis, but doesn’t possess the same physical attributes to be as effective as a defender or rebounder at the next level.
Markkanen averaged just 0.5 blocks and 0.4 steals per game at Arizona.
“Some people talk about it, but I don’t think we’re that similar,” Markkanen said of Porzingis in December. “There are some similarities obviously, like shooting the ball, but he’s 7-3.”
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire