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Chicago Bulls

Report: Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen expected to make season debut Saturday night in Houston

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Chris Paul guards Lauri Markkanen (NBA Getty Images)

After missing the first 23 games of the 2018-19 NBA season, Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is expected to make his highly anticipated season debut, according to a report from The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Markkanen has been sidelined since suffering a sprained elbow during the Bulls training camp in late September. The 21-year-old recently returned to practice and had been inching closer to a return.

Markkanen was selected seventh overall in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Timberwolves and acquired by the Bulls along with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine in the draft-night deal that saw Jimmy Butler go to Minnesota.

He quickly proved his worth.

MORE: 23 best players under the age of 23

As a rookie, the Finnish 7-footer showed plenty of promise, averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from deep. His performance earned him an All-Rookie First Team selection, solidifying himself as a franchise cornerstone moving forward.

In Markkanen's absence, the Bulls have struggled out the gate, sputtering to a 5-18 record and the league's second-worst Offensive Rating (101.0).

As the team eases its young star back into the rotation, improvements across the board are sure to follow.

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