Horace, first and foremost, thanks for the compliment. I absolutely understand your frustration with the trade but I hope my defense and logic behind the timing make sense.
Now to defend Markkanen — this is while noting that in the moment I too was hoping for Monk, Collins or even Dennis Smith — I honestly think it is an understatement to simply call Lauri a “shooter” because he was historically good and efficient at Arizona (the numbers do verify this). After the trade I went into a true deep-dive on his game, read a few dozen scouting reports and watched a few hours of highlights and then a few games. Is Lauri the next Dirk? I doubt it heavily, but he is far, far more than just a spot up shooter with size.
The shooting speaks for itself, but I believe his ability off the dribble is underrated and is why he is far better than Channing Frye (one of his common comparisons) and his lateral agility/speed is better than given credit which should make him less of a liability on defense (he is never going to be a “lock-down” perimeter defender but his size lets him take a step back to stay in front while still contesting shots).
I think his rebounding is also underrated, he still pulled down over 7 per game (right in line with Isaac who seems to get far more love) while routinely playing on the perimeter (it is worth noting that while Alonzo Trier was out Lauri was by and large a SF at Arizona) so when you take into consideration his position + statistics I am more bullish (no pun intended) on his ability to help on the boards.
Rim protection is a weakness, at least so far as blocks per game is concerned, but keep in mind that blocking shots is not the only way to be helpful. Simply making the right rotation and adequately contesting a shot has value — and Lauri can and does do this well. Lauri gets criticized here at The Ringer as “being a 7' player who plays like a 6'5” player” but at the end of the day you cant teach his height and it does ultimately help for both rebounding and rim protection. He will never be Anthony Davis, but he is far from a liability.
All that being said, he is not a finished product, he is 20 years old coming off a historically efficient/effective season who can get stronger and work on the other parts of his game to help his team. I like him as a “piece” he is going to help this team and can definitely be a part of the next deep playoff push for the Bulls.