Lauri Markkanen ranked 66th in ESPN's Top 100 NBA players


Last week, budding Bulls star Lauri Markkanen was ranked 84th among the Top 100 NBA players by Sports Illustrated.

This week, ESPN released their own Top 100 NBA players list and they favored Markkanen a bit more, slotting him in at 66.

"After a strong rookie season highlighted by 145 made 3s, Markkanen should take another jump in offensive efficiency with more weapons at Fred Hoiberg's disposal," ESPN's Mike Schmitz wrote.

ESPN's poll was determined by a vote amongst an expert panel, while Sports Illustrated's version of the list aimed to combine the subjective with some objective data. 

In the blurb accompanying the ranking, ESPN was notably more optimistic about Markkanen heading into the season. Schmitz noted the addition of "a rebounding, shot-blocking center like Wendell Carter Jr. also lets the Finnish 7-footer focus more on his strengths."

Both Sports Illustrated and ESPN seemed concerned about Markkanen's ability to be the playmaker amidst a cast of players -- including Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker -- all looking to score.

Pundits, however, appear ready to anoint Markkanen as the focal point of the Bulls offense as the team's best player. Markkanen is the only Bulls player to appear in both lists, though ESPN hasn't released 1-50 yet.

Sports Illustrated ranked former Bulls star Jimmy Butler at No. 10 and LaVine was added to their self-imposed snubs list. LaVine and Markkanen, along with Kris Dunn, were traded to the Bulls by the Timberwolves in exchange for Butler the night of the 2017 NBA Draft.

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