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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Markkanen, Allen Impress in NBA Summer League Pre-Tournament

Simon Asher

Arizona’s Kadeem Allen (5) dribbles past a USC defender during the UA-USC game on Thursday, Feb. 23 in McKale Center. Allen was selected 53rd overall by the Boston Celtics.

Two Arizona Wildcats are making names for themselves in the pros.

Freshman Lauri Markkanen, drafted 7th overall by the Chicago Bulls, and senior Kadeem Allen, taken 53rd overall by the Boston Celtics, recently began NBA Summer League play.

Both have performed well in the league’s Las Vegas tournament, showing the wide spectrum of their abilities during outings with their respective teams.

While the Bulls were eliminated from the tournament yesterday and Markkanen sitting out due to a left big-toe contusion, Allen and the Celtics prepare themselves for the Golden State Warriors in the championship round.

Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen came out of the gates sprinting in his first game and found himself near a double-double with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists.

In the first quarter alone he had seven points and dominated around the basket — his first points came from this dunk:

Markkanen proceeded to score another basket in similar fashion just seconds later, then sunk one from the three-point line:

The real highlight of his three-game-run with the Bulls, though, was his double-double in the team’s only win against the Washington Wizards.

After playing just two games with a seemingly shaky roster, Markkanen found his rhythm and scored 20 points with 10 rebounds.

One reason for this success was his chemistry with guard Denzel Valentine. Valentine was the 14th overall pick in 2016, and he clicked with Markkanen and elevated his own play.

The duo’s performance resembled those of of Allonzo Trier and Markkanen in Arizona. This dish from Valentine to Markkanen in a game against the Atlanta Hawks demonstrates their chemistry:

Despite Markkanen’s efforts, the Bulls ended with a losing record of 1-2 and fell to the 16th seed Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. The severity of his toe injury is unknown, but he will most likely be ready for training camp.

Kadeem Allen

Allen knew coming into Summer League that he had to play the game he was known for. Sticking to that defensive play, while adding a dash of offense, he dazzled the crowd.

In his first game, against the Philadelphia 76ers, Allen tallied his first points off this layup:

In the same game, he also registered an assist, which came off this pass to 3rd overall pick Jayson Tatum:

Although Allen was solid in every game, his best performance came in the final contest against the Philadelphia 76ers, in which he had six points, four rebounds (all defensive), two assists and one block.

In his previous games, Allen had a presence. He blocked shots, got defensive rebounds and maintained good defensive positioning. But his efforts in the final contest were sublime. He even had this circus shot that awed the fans and commentators:

The Celtics moved through their preliminary games in Las Vegas with a perfect 3-0 record. When they take to the court at 6 p.m. EST in the championship tournament, the spotlight will be on. Allen and his teammates have performed at a high level so far, putting them in a good position to win the tournament.

Follow Rachel Huston on Twitter.

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