NBA Draft Profile: Malik Monk
Key Stats: 19.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.3 APG
Measurables: 6’3, 197 pounds
As a 19 year old freshman for John Calipari, Malik Monk connected on 39.7% of his three point attempts and is one of the most explosive scorers in the draft. Monk’s 3-point field goal percentage is even more impressive considering he was a high volume shooter (6.9 attempts per game) and many of his makes were on shots of great difficulty. Monk is also very adept at creating his own shot and over half of his FGA in the half court came off the dribble (converting at a rate of 43%, according to Synergy.) Close-outs simply don’t bother Monk and his quick release allows him to get his shot off against any defender. The 2017 Jerry West Award winner is also a tremendous athlete and tenacious dunker. Monk has a 42 inch max vertical and a lightning-fast first step that allows him to attack the rim and compliment his jump shot. Monk was one of the most dangerous weapons in the country and posted 4 games with 30 or more points, including a legendary 47 point outburst over the National Champion North Carolina Tarheels, where he drilled 8 three pointers. Throughout his freshman season at Kentucky, Monk showcased a diverse scoring repertoire and can beat defenses as a spot-up shooter, shot-creator and in transition. Monk also has a nice handle and could develop into a secondary ball handler for whatever NBA team drafts him. He has good lateral quickness on the defensive end and plays with a ton of energy and heart for a consensus 5-star recruit.
Most of the concerns about Monk come on the defensive side of the ball. With a 6’4 wingspan, he doesn’t have ideal length to match up against NBA shooting guards and he struggled defending stronger guards with the Wildcats. Monk, despite being a great athlete, doesn’t help out much in the blocks or steals department and may never be a complete, two-way player. Offensively there are questions surrounding his ability to facilitate and play with the ball in his hands. Some scouts believe his low assist rate was due to the fact that he played next to De’Aaron Fox, while others simply maintain it is because he is a high volume shooter. Monk will need to develop as a table-setter, so he can play some minutes at point guard and not have to defend shooting guards that are bigger than him. Finally, Monk must enhance on his ability to finish at the rim. While his explosiveness allows him to get inside, he shot under 50% from the paint in half court sets and struggles finishing through contact. Improving this trait will allow the Arkansas native to be a little less jump-shot reliant and allow him to get higher percentage looks.
Monk may be the easiest prospect in the entire draft to find a good fit for. The Philadelphia 76ers are looking for a guard that would compliment Ben Simmons’ point forward style of play and want a guy that can straight up shoot the rock and defend point guards on defense. Monk is capable of doing both these things and would be a nightmarish third option for Philly behind Simmons and Joel Embiid. Monk’s outside game compliments the style of play of both Simmons and Embiid so well and would give Brett Brown another guy to take shots down the stretch of close games. Unfortunately, it looks to be very doubtful that the 76ers will select Monk as they are in current negotiations to trade up with Boston for the number 1 pick to take Markelle Fultz. Looking at other teams in the top 10, Monk would be a nice option for the Knicks, as he could play Robin to Kristaps Porzingis’ Batman and provide NYK with some much needed perimeter shooting as they ranked 24th in made 3’s last year.
I love the Malik Monk/Eric Gordon comparison. Gordon’s career was temporarily derailed by injuries and sometimes we forget just how scary of a scorer he is. Both Monk and Gordon are explosive athletes and versatile scorers that have in the gym range from deep. They both make impossible shots look routine and are efficient when spotting up and pulling up. Gordon thrived as the sixth man for the Houston Rockets this season and Monk, if he never develops as a ball-handler and finisher, projects to be an instant offense guy off the bench who contends for the Sixth Man of the Year award or be a “third banana” like Gordon was in New Orleans. However, if Monk can improve his ability to run an NBA offense and score like he did at Kentucky he could be the next Bradley Beal, a max contract 2-guard that can flirt with a 50, 40, 90 season. Worst case scenario Monk turns out to be JR Smith without the defense and becomes a streaky shooter that is capable of heating up at any moment.