The best current NBA player from every Sweet 16 team left in the NCAA Tournament

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2. Arizona Wildcats: Lauri Markkannen

I don’t want to ruffle any feathers in Nuggets Nation as Aaron Gordon could make a solid argument for this honor. But Lauri has improved himself into a budding star in the league and he doesn’t have the benefit of playing alongside Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

Markannen was a top-10 draft pick but was floundering a bit with the Bulls and Cavs before taking off last season after being acquired by the Jazz in the Donovan Mitchell trade. He averaged 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while shooting over 39% from three and had the Jazz in the playoff hunt.

He was named to his first All-Star Game and took home the league’s Most Improved Player Award after the season. He has followed it up with another great year and was only squeezed out of an All-Star spot due to a dearth of talent in the Western Conference.

While Gordon has been an incredible role player for Denver, he’s just not carrying anywhere close to the offensive burden that Markkannen is for the Jazz. Second-year Wildcat Bennedict Mathurin has shined for the Pacers, but he’s just a scoring sixth man at this point.

Arizona greats of the past include Gilbert Arenas, Andre Iguodala, Jason Terry, Damon Stoudamire, Richard Jefferson, Mike Bibby, Sean Elliott, and others.