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February 15, 2019

Lauri Markkanen

Charlotte, North Carolina

Q. Hanno Mottola is one of your mentors. What's some of the advice that he has given to you?
LAURI MARKKANEN: He was my coach for two years, and he's super focused on details and footwork and stuff like that. So that really helped me.

Q. Your father was a player and then your brother was a soccer player. Have you gotten influences from all this?
LAURI MARKKANEN: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I've been trying -- obviously, I look up to my dad and my brother. I just wanted to do something different when he went to soccer and stuff like that.

Q. Where do you think you are in NBA compared to last year?
LAURI MARKKANEN: I think I'm a better player right now. I had a little minor setback with the injury at the start of the season, but now I'm trying to bounce back. Yeah, I feel like I'm a better player now.

Q. Your expectations for the rest of the season for yourself and your team?
LAURI MARKKANEN: Trying to win some games, finish strong. I know, if we are able to come together and finish the season strong, that will feed onto the next season.

Q. How well do you know Cedi [Osman]?
LAURI MARKKANEN: I played him a couple times in the Euros too, and just now I've been able to talk to him in the locker room.

Q. What do you think of him?
LAURI MARKKANEN: I think he's a really good player. He's a young guy, especially when he played for Turkey, when we played them, he was really their main guy. He's been improving from last year, too. So I'm excited to see how he's going to do.

Q. In his game, whether it's from Turkey or playing in the Euroleague, did he have that quality there?
LAURI MARKKANEN: Like I said, he's a young guy. He's definitely getting there, especially like in the Euros, when I played him, it felt like he was a star because he was that guy on the team, and he knew it, and he was playing like that. So he's definitely getting there.

Q. Is there a way to defend Giannis [Antetokounmpo]?
LAURI MARKKANEN: I'm sure there is. I didn't figure it out yet.

Q. He's the most difficult opponent so far for you?
LAURI MARKKANEN: He's definitely up there. Just a combination of how strong he is, how fast, and he has good moves. So he's a great player.

Q. What would you say about this new NBA where shooting the ball from afar is even more important than playing inside in the key and making plays in the post. It fits to you or it was something that you developed because NBA is like this now?
LAURI MARKKANEN: It just fits me. I grew up, believe it or not, I was a guard. I wasn't that tall. So I grew up playing point guard and shooting guard, so I was always doing that type of stuff, and then I happened to grow a little bit. So it just fits me. I didn't have to change my game or anything at all.

Q. How do you feel being selected to play in this game?
LAURI MARKKANEN: I feel honored, even coming off an injury, like I said, just showed me that coaches respect me, and just to get in, I feel honored.

Q. Who are you looking forward to competing against in the game tonight?
LAURI MARKKANEN: Pretty much just -- I don't have a teammate in it, like I did last year, but they're all great guys. I'm looking forward to playing them. We're just trying to get a win. That's all we care about.

Q. I know you're trying to get a win, but let's keep it real, you played against all these guys the last couple of seasons. There's not one person that you're like, okay, he's dominated me or he had a good game against me. I've got to make sure I go back at him.
LAURI MARKKANEN: Well, I'm a power forward, and obviously, Kyle Kuzma plays at the power forward position, too. We always have a good matchup. So that's going to be fun.

Q. So going back to that competition, would you rather cross him over, or would you rather posterize him if you had a choice? Which one and why?
LAURI MARKKANEN: I don't handle the ball that much, so I would probably rather dunk on him.

Q. There it is, I hope you get that one. What gives you more pleasure inside, blocking a shot or posterizing someone with a beautiful dunk? And explain to us the sensation. And when you dunk for the first time in your life. It's always something that people remember.
LAURI MARKKANEN: Probably dunking the ball, just I've always loved to do that. And my first dunk was probably 14, 15 years old. I never dunked in practice before, never, and then I got a breakaway in a game, and I was about to lay it up, and realized I could dunk the ball. That was the first time I did it. It was pretty cool.

Q. What was the sensation like?
LAURI MARKKANEN: It felt pretty great, I've got to tell you that. I did it a little bit too early because after that every game without a dunk was a disappointment for everybody.

Q. What do you think about Dirk Nowitzki playing here?
LAURI MARKKANEN: I think it's really awesome that we have players as coaches as well. He's a really good guy. Hopefully I get some playing time.

Q. What about his legacy that he's leaving?
LAURI MARKKANEN: He's done so much for the game of basketball, especially for me. I grew up looking up to him and tried to develop my game after him. So it feels -- it means a lot to me that he's the coach of the team.

Q. What are your thoughts on playing with Luka Doncic?
LAURI MARKKANEN: I'm excited to play with him. I played against him in European championships a couple of years ago. I haven't played against him in the NBA because I was hurt, but I'm looking forward to playing with him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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