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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

With Allonzo Trier returning so late in the season, is he still Arizona’s best player?

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Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (35) is high fived by Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen (10) as he is subbed out during Arizona’s 79-62 win against Washington State in McKale Center on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.

With Allonzo Trier back in the cut, the best argument any Arizona fan can have now is who is the best player on the team? Trier or Lauri Markkanen?

LAURI MARKKANEN

Last Saturday was the best true road game the Wildcats have played all season, and it just so happened to be the same time of Trier’s return. So he’s automatically the most valuable player Arizona has at this point, right?

So the 17-2 start with the only pair of losses coming from teams who are shaping up to be seeded anywhere from No. 1-4 come NCAA Tournament time is just going to get thrown out the window? Markkanen is, without a doubt, Arizona’s best player and here’s why: His skillset practically makes him a unicorn and decision-making down the stretch is advanced for a teenager.

For a 7-foot guy from Finland, Markkanen knows how to score from everywhere on the court. He is shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line, which leads the country for forwards. Not too many players in the Pac-12 Conference, let alone the country, can claim the 7-foot height while shooting the ball like a guard.

“It’s hard to fathom somebody his size shooting the percentage that he is shooting currently,” head coach Sean Miller said. “To Lauri’s credit, he’s very unselfish and selective. He’s not irresponsible and he’s not looking to score … When you’re smart, unselfish and got a great skill set and the size allows him to get clean shots off, he’s going to shoot a very good percentage.”

Plus against USC, Markkanen had a dagger 3-pointer that put the Trojans away in the last minute while putting the ball between his legs to Kobi Simmons, who set up Trier for a dunk against UCLA in the final stretch. If it weren’t for Markkanen, there was a great chance Arizona would’ve been swept in Los Angeles.

Trier is a phenomenal player, but tip your cap to Markkanen’s numbers. Miller said Trier’s PED situation was “once in a lifetime,” but Markkanen is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of player. Also, last time I checked Trier isn’t a lock NBA Draft lottery pick, but Markkanen is. Check mate.

ALLONZO TRIER

Trier is Arizona’s best player because of his versatility. Whether it’s going coast-to-coast for a buzzer beating lay-up like he did against UCLA, stepping back for 3-point shots or taking his man off the dribble, Trier is a threat to score from everywhere on the court.

Whose hands would you rather have the ball in with 10 seconds left on the shot clock? Sure Markkanen connected late in the shot clock against USC, but he needed a little bit of luck off the glass. Trier is always capable of scoring whether he was set up by one of his teammates or has to do it on his own.

In his first game back after 10 months of not participating in a college basketball game, Trier displayed a more complete game. Besides scoring 12 points, he grabbed seven rebounds and had four assists. The scoring will always be there for the sophomore guard, but the other additions to his game make him one of the best all-around players in the conference.

“We watch him every day,” Miller said. “He’s a much improved player from a year ago—it’s night and day. He passes the ball better; he understands the team dynamics a lot better; defensively, he’s light-years ahead of where he would have been a year ago. His 3-point shooting, the proficiency of him being able to make quality 3’s, I’d say him and Lauri would be our best 3-point shooters.”

Trier is Arizona’s best option every time they come down the floor. We’ve already seen what he can do in transition with his ferocious finish at the rim against the Bruins, and soon enough, we’ll see him (successfully) attack opponent’s 2-3 zones and create for his teammates, or just do it all himself at the rim.

Markkanen shoots the deep ball better than Trier, but Trier remains the second best option from beyond the arc. He’s also the best option from everywhere else on the floor, something Markkanen surely can’t claim.

Regardless of the answer to this question, the Wildcats are just fine having to pick between Markkanen and Trier. 


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