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NBA Draft 2017 Scouting Profile: Malik Monk

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Monk offers an explosive offensive game, a 40% three-point stroke, and the ability to catch fire and ride an extended hot streak. Could he fit in with the Kings crowded SG core?

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Position: SG

General Information: 19 years old, played for Kentucky. From Bentonville, AR. SEC Player of the Year.

Measurables: 6'3", 200 lbs, 6’3.5" wingspan, 8'3" standing reach.

2016-17 Season Statistics: 19.8 PPG, 2.3 APG, 2.5 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 2.0 TOPG (38 games played, 32.1 minutes a contest) – 49.7% FG, 82.2% FT, 39.7% 3P

Summary:

In an exceptionally intriguing freshman class, Monk’s success as a shooter AND his massive performances at the NCAA’s biggest program made him a household name early. Despite some worrying inconsistencies from a game-to-game basis, Monk still finished with excellent efficiencies for a player seeing top defensive pressure. Aside from his shooting and a solid success as a secondary ball-handler, Monk is raw and should be handled with patience. While he plays a redundant role for the Kings, Monk will make the argument for best talent against any of these tier two guys.

Offensive Breakdown:

Monk offers an explosive offensive game with highlight reels unrivaled by any aside from Lonzo Ball – Monk had a 40% three-point stroke, a 89th percentile efficiency on spot-jump shots, and a Human Torch ability to catch fire and ride an extended hot streak. Where De’Aaron Fox was the brains of Kentucky’s high-powered offense, Monk was the 1A scoring option and was given a green light by Coach Calipari; he averaged 18.3 FGA and a staggering 8.6 3PA per 40 minutes, making his 45% shooting stroke a damn surprising bit of efficiency considering his hot-and-cold playstyle. He’s more than just a spot-up shooter; he’s capable off the bounce, on the move, and with a hand in his face. Pretty much any which-way the defense could move him, he had a way to get a good shot anyways.

I compared Monk’s lone Kentucky season to the final collegiate seasons of the NBA’s top young shooting guards. Forewarning; statistical comparisons should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Malik Monk v. Young NBA SGs

Player FGA (Per 40) FG% 3PA (Per 40) 3P% PPP in Half-Court PPP Half Court Percentile Usage TOV%
Player FGA (Per 40) FG% 3PA (Per 40) 3P% PPP in Half-Court PPP Half Court Percentile Usage TOV%
Malik Monk 18.3 45.00% 8.6 39.70% 1.04 91st 27.30% 10.40%
Buddy Hield 18.4 50.10% 9.8 45.70% 1.09 96th 30.20% 14%
Jamal Murray 17 45.40% 8.7 40.80% 1.02 90th 27.10% 12.10%
Devin Booker 14.1 47% 6.9 41.10% 1 90th 22.80% 10.40%
Bradley Beal 12.4 44.50% 5.9 33.90% 0.91 77th 23.00% 14.30%
C.J. McCollum 20.9 49.50% 6.9 51.60% 1.05 96th 37.20% 12.30%
Ben McLemore 13.4 49.50% 5.8 42.00% 1.03 95th 23.20% 14.20%

Monk matches up well with all of these NBA SGs, including two Kentucky sharpshooters who are seeing their games transition well at the next level. Ben McLemore’s inclusion was just to taunt us, but his numbers seemed to show a lower volume, solidly efficient shooter… but nothing close to Monk’s touches.

Monk is an exceptional athlete, and is able to cover both ground and air distance with insane quickness. He made some highlight dunks this year that were properly overshadowed by his flamethrower long-range shot. But for all of these physical tools, he’s become too complacent with his jumper and is less comfortable attacking the basket; 2.3% of his makes in the half court were on cuts, and only 20% of his total offense came at the rim… insane for a high-volume scorer in a Kentucky pace. The modern NBA game will covet his shooting ability, but he’ll only become a multi-dimensional weapon if teams have to worry about him driving as well as shooting. He’s also not the ideal size for a shooting guard, standing at less than 6’3 without shoes and lacking a sheer physique to match up in muscle. But smaller two guards than him (Eric Gordon, Avery Bradley, Jason Terry) have thrived before and they’ll continue to do so in a small-ball world.

While Monk, like Jamal Murray and Devin Booker before him, can play as a secondary handler, I can’t buy into any idea that he’s a sneaky point guard pickup. In an offense that doesn’t rely on the 1 to be the floor leader, Monk would be an excellent pick (I’m looking at you, Philadelphia), but otherwise he’d need to completely revamp his handles (weakest part of his current offensive game), court vision, and internal control system before he can be expected to be a primary distributor in an offense. Watch the few games where De’Aaron Fox was injured, and you can see Monk is quick to make the same reads repeatedly. It’s absolutely true that Coach Calipari limits his players overall talents to focus on their strengths that fit his gameplans, but the only player who Calipari limited as a point guard who ended up ACTUALLY being a point guard in the NBA was Eric Bledsoe. Monk would need an entire mental hard drive rewiring to go from on-the-move shooter to offensive instigator, and if that’s your goal, you’re risking damaging what makes Monk special.

Take Monk for what he is; a star shooter with great scoring potential. That in itself makes him worth a top 10 pick. If you doubt Monk’s ability, go watch the first North Carolina game, the Georgia game, the UCLA game, and tell me a player with his firepower doesn’t have a great chance to impact the NBA in the modern era.

Defensive Breakdown:

Monk’s size isn’t what you want in a two guard, but he also doesn’t have the on-ball defensive skills to be matched up with many NBA point guards… at least, not yet. His effort wasn’t consistent, and he was eager to let De’Aaron Fox or Isaiah Briscoe handle the physical matchups. Nothing in his instincts OR his defensive awareness are NBA ready, but we’ve seen both smaller guards (Avery Bradley) or LESS forced defenders (McLemore, Booker, Zach LaVine) go on to become neutral- or even plus-impact defenders.

Monk was not an impact on the boards, snagging just 3.1 per 40 minutes. Nothing in his role got him close to the rim on either end, but he shouldn’t be expected to snag many rebounds at the next level, either.

Intangibles:

The biggest worry for Monk isn’t his lack of non-shooting impact, but rather, the lack of consistent impact as a shooter. Kentucky depended on him and De’Aaron Fox much more than Calipari would have liked, but Monk had too many games where he was either taken out of the game by rough double teams or just never found his own rhythm. He had eight games with more than 25 points, and eight games with less than 12 points. Inconsistency should be expected from a player with limited offense outside of his jumper, but the fact that he scored 47 points against UNC in their first matchup and then took 38 minutes in their rematch to get going (finishing with 12 points, 6 of which came in the final 60 seconds) says a ton about his biorhythm. Until the attack game or defensive instincts develop, if his shot is off for the night he shouldn’t be expected to contribute a ton.

Fit with Sacramento:

Yeah, Monk isn’t a perfect fit with the Kings. They could use another shooter in the guard lineup, but preferably it would be one who can control the ball. Monk’s passing in the half court (9.6% rate, 1.2/1 assist/turnover ratio) compares well to the shooting guards mentioned before, but don’t come close to floor general levels. That 2-guard supply already featuring Buddy Hield, Malachi Richardson, and presumably Bogdan Bogdanovic, moves from a full pantry to a laughably overstocked pantry.

But here’s the nasty secret of this draft; the Kings might not come out of this draft with young talent at both the point guard AND small forward spots, and Monk makes a legitimate Best Player Available (BPA) argument against any of the second/third-tier players. He’s an explosive offensive talent who is just scratching the surface of his other talents. Sacramento can’t afford to pass on talent for fit at this point, and if they think Monk is the best player at 10 (or maybe even 5… gulp), they’ve got to make that pick and figure out how to juggle the shooting guard assets later.