To preface, I am a big time Arizona fan who lives in Tucson. I've watched every AZ game and have seen Markannen up close in person a handful of times. The layman's evaluation of him is that he could be a richer man's Olynyk. A skilled 7-footer who can shoot who could come in and produce close to the level of Olynyk and hopefully grow from there.
My impressions of him at the beginning of the year were that he was a skilled, stronger than I imagined, 7-footer who could move decently and had 3-point range. I admit, I had some hesitancy initially given the way that he doesn't force anything. While it was a good thing that he wasn't being stupid and taking ill-advised shots and turning the ball over, it was frustrating that he was regularly the best player on the court, but didn't act like it.
Now, 8 games into the Pac-12 season, I am forced to adjust my expectations. It is clear now that he is not just a 7-footer who can shoot the 3, but he is an incredible shooter period. He is shooting 50% on 3's for the year, and is over 60% in Pac-12 play - as a 19 year-old freshman! He's definitely not soft or weak...he's actually already pretty ripped, and is averaging 7.5 rebounds per game. He shows bball IQ and great passing ability. He can also put the ball on the floor and has a decent mid-range game. He is averaging the same 17 and 7 as Olynyk did his last year in college, except that Olynyk was a redshirt junior and only shot 30% from 3 that year. As cliche as it is to compare a skilled 7-footer who can shoot to Dirk, I don't think it's a stretch in this case at all.
If you consider the Dirk comparison, there is nothing to say that as a 19 year-old he doesn't measure up skill-wise or shooting-wise, and he is at least on par with Dirk athletically. He definitely seems like a great kid that is willing to put in the work. The only question I have is that confidence and alpha-dog instinct. The confidence seems to be growing as the year goes on, and I can't see how someone that good doesn't eventually acquire some of that alpha-dog swagger.
Given the way that the game is going these days, a 19 year-old, elite-shooting, strong, skilled 7-footer seems like about as much of a sure thing as you can get. I wouldn't put him above Fultz at this point, but he's gotta be in the argument after that.
Makes me feel all the better about the Nets pick, even in the worst-case scenario.