The news broke recently, per @JoshJBullsHoops on Twitter, that Finland basketball coaching legend Henrik Dettmann has spent the last several days in Chicago with the Bulls organization supporting star forward Lauri Markkanen.
Henrik Dettmann, who has been the head coach for the Finnish national team since 2004 as well as a previous stint from 1992-1997, has presumably been with the team to mentor Lauri Markkanen in an attempt to get him back on track after a sluggish start to the season.
Reportedly, Dettmann has been motivating Markkanen to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor, specifically to get him to be more ‘shot hungry’ on the offensive end, despite having a lower usage rate than his previous two seasons in the league.
An image also surfaced earlier, courtesy of Matthew Boylen, of Bulls’ head coach Jim Boylen out to dinner with Dettmann following the 109-106 victory over Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers, thanks to late-game heroics from Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine. Maybe during dinner they discussed more ways to involve Markkanen in the offense? His field goal attempts are the lowest they've ever been in the NBA, with coach Jim Boylen’s multi-ball-handler offense being a major factor in that.
Henrik Dettmann, who coached Dirk Nowitzki while with the German national team, talked previously to K.C. Johnson regarding the comparison between Markkanen and Nowitzki. “I think you can see similarities. And I’m pretty sure in the future, it will get closer,” Dettmann said. “I think Lauri will develop his shooting ability. What’s missing from his game that Dirk has, I think he can develop, like his turnaround jumper from the post or mid-post. Lauri has the ability to put the ball on the floor. And he’s an excellent passer. I don’t think he gets enough out of this skill yet.”
Dettmann also recently visited Lauri in Chicago prior to his February run during the 2018-19 season, where he was in the running for NBA Player of the Month and played a stretch of his best basketball yet. Markkanen was averaging over 26 points per game to go with over 12 rebounds and leading the Bulls to big wins, specifically over the Boston Celtics, where he set a career-high 35 points.
Markkanen has struggled to begin the season, shooting at numbers well below his career averages. However, since Dettmann visited him and the team, the performance of the Finn has rapidly increased. He is averaging nearly 17.0 points so far in the month of December to go with 6.8 rebounds while shooting at an efficient clip at 50% from the field and 42% from the three-point line.
After a big win against the Los Angeles Clippers, Markkanen came off of one of his best games of the season. He posted 13 points on 50% shooting to go with a season-high 17 rebounds. The Bulls now begin a four-game road trip, which starts with an encounter against the Oklahoma City Thunder. After that, the team will face the Wizards, Pistons and the Magic - who all currently tout records below .500.
Dettmann will not join the team on the four-game road trip. He is now in Salt Lake, Utah to see Finnish prospect Mikael Jantunen and Utah vs. Kentucky on Wednesday.
For the Bulls to perform and reach the previously set goal of making the playoffs, they must find a way to turn Lauri Markkanen back into his February self, which will help guide this team to more victories. The talent is there for the 23-year-old, now he just needs to translate that talent into consistent performances.
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