We’ve all seen Malik Monk take over games with his crazy ability to shoot, such as dropping 47 points in a win against UNC. However, there are questions about his game translating smoothly, and people wonder about his draft position. What kind of fit will Monk be in the NBA?
First, let’s take a look at Malik Monk’s statline from this season (per 40 minutes)
24.8 PPG, 2.9 APG, 3.1 RPG, 2.5 TOPG, with 45 FG%, he shot a hair under 40% from the 3 at 39.7%, and his FT% was 82%. Additionally, his TS% was 58.6%. Almost half his shots per game were threes (6.9 of his 14.7 field goal attempts were 3 pointers), and he got to the line almost 5 times a game.
Let’s break down what Malik Monk does well:
- First, the obvious. He’s a lights out shooter. He can spot up incredibly well, especially ahead of the break in transition. Additionally, he plays well off ball in the halfcourt. Here is a well drawn up play to find Monk wide open for a spot up. His shot has great form, he had good movement, and it was an overall good play by Kentucky. His ability to play off ball is probably better than any other prospect in the class, and he has impressive range on his jumper.
- He’s a great athlete. His athleticism is what separates him from previous great college shooters in the past. He’s a high flyer, and is also pretty quick and has very good body control, which shows the most during his drives to the basket.
- Basketball IQ is overall above average. I wouldn’t call it great, but it’s passable. For many prospects, feel for the game and intelligence on the court are major flaws. Not having that issue apparent too often is a plus.
- High tempo offense is where he thrives- Kentucky had a lot of transition plays. His best moments came off of fast-breaks and, as mentioned earlier, ahead of the break jump shots. Having a quick point guard like De’Aaron Fox to push the tempo really benefited Monk. This makes it easier to believe that Monk will have an easy time adjusting to the NBA pace.
- He’s actually quite unselfish. Despite what you might think when seeing a guy take nearly 15 shots a game, it took Coach Calipari to continue pushing Monk to stop being as selfless, and giving him a major green light. This is an anecdote from an ESPN broadcast, but Monk loves getting his teammates involved, and is not a selfish player. Do not confuse high volume with selfish.
- Lastly, his transition game is unreal, hence his success in high tempo offense. Monk’s explosiveness is shown best in transition, and so is his playmaking in transition.
As you can see, offense is Monk’s forte. However, he has some issues on offense that will need to be addressed, as well as the defensive side:
- Monk’s defensive instincts are not strong. He often tries to guess what the defender will do with screens, and often times he’ll completely miss. For example, (no available loops) sometimes a defender will fake going right with a screen, then cut left. Monk will have either completely fallen for the fake, or guessed left, then gone back right after the fake. He doesn’t read screens well on defense.
- His defensive focus really comes and goes. In a game where he disappeared in general in the conference tournament, Monk is ball watching pretty deeply. Luckily it didn’t hurt the Wildcats, but you don’t want a lost guard ball watching very often.
- Additionally, he relies a lot on his hands on defense. He has really active and quick hands, but doesn’t defend with his quick feet as much as he should. This causes him to gamble too often or pick up fouls.
- He has no “true” position. It’s easy to label him a SG, which he likely will be, but he played 3 different positions at UK with 2 point guards in De’Aaron Fox and Isaiah Briscoe often being in lineups at the same time. His size (listed as 6’3) doesn’t give him a clear position due to his lack of great ball handling, which was greatly masked in Kentucky. This isn’t to say he can’t dribble, because he can (As shown by flashy plays such as this), but his ball handling is just not consistent at this point. He may get a run at point guard, depending on who drafts him, similar to Victor Oladipo in 2013-14. Monk not having a true position/ ball handling issues also raise questions about his ability to become a first option on offense.
- He has to add strength. NBA players will eat him alive, making his defense horrid if he doesn’t add weight quickly.
- Shot selection really isn’t that strong. He’s great at making bad shots, which isn’t always a plus. Monk takes a poor shot over a good contest and another nearby defender when he could’ve passed, as there was still 20 seconds left. Taking bad shots early in the shot clock was a common trend in that game. The green light he has can often be detrimental to the offense.
- Lastly, he needs to improve his shot off the dribble. Many of his poor shots come off the dribble.
Overall, Monk is a really intriguing prospect worth a top 10 pick. His offense is fit for the modern NBA. His combination to spot up with his excellent athleticism makes for an exciting combination. If he can improve his ball handling, he will be a steal in the draft. His defense is unlikely to become more than average, so to the fans of whichever team drafts him, do not get your hopes up about that end of the ball. I can very well see Monk being a premier 2nd option in the league.
I think Monk can easily put it together. He’s a good kid who is critical of his game and selfless on and off the court. I currently have Malik Monk to the Sixers at 3, but can see him sliding to the Knicks at 8. Monk fits perfectly with the Sixers’ core- Simmons and Monk should be able to work together easily thanks to Simmons’ court vision, and Monk will help the overall spacing issues the Sixers have been plagued by over the last couple of years.