By Jack Drapkin
Here’s the deal, five years ago there is no way anyone would seriously consider drafting a 6’3″ Shooting Guard who’s primary atribute is three-point shooting in the lottery, let alone the top ten. And yet, here we are. Malik Monk has been steadily rising draft boards ever since his 47-point explosion against North Carolina, the likes Kentucky had never seen before. With a program as storied as Kentucky if you are doing something that hasn’t been done before you are most likely a special player.
The separator between a good shooter and a average shooter is usually confidence, the belief that if you’re 0-9 that 10th shot is definitely going on. Monk is so confident is himself that it makes him very difficult to guard. He is a constant threat to pull-up in transition for three, off the dribble, with a hand in his face, it does not matter. If Monk can see the rim he thinks its going in and once it does just one time, he is hot. Now, that may sound extreme but it’s not.
While averaging a tick over 22 points a game, he has already had 10 (TEN) games with at least four three pointers made. It says he has the rare, Klay Thompson-like ability to get insanely hot in a hurry. That is such an absurd number, especially since he is far aware the best scorer on Kentucky and commands the attention of the entire defense. THE GUY FLAT OUT GETS BUCKETS.
But there is a catch, the reason he is listed as a potential lottery pick and not a top-five guy with that scoring ability is the rest of his game lags behind. Despite being a good athlete with decent length, he is not a good defender, specifically within the team concepts of defense. Too often he is caught out of position and most likely needs to be taken by a team that will allow him to cover the worse of the perimeter options on any given night.
He is also not to be mistaken for a playmaker, sure there will nights where he picks up a few assists here and there, but do not expect him to average more than three assists at any point in his career.
Lastly, while it is great that he is confident in his jumper it does result in him taking some really bad shots at times. The issue is that no shot is a bad shot in his mind, which is generally not the worst mindset, ask Mike D’antoni and the Rockets about that, but when the shot is not falling it can be ugly.
Monk’s perception will be determined in many ways by the team who ends up drafting him. Look no further than JR Smith. In a matter of two seasons he went from a ball chucking, no defense playing Knick, to a knockdown shooter and quality defender on the Cavs. Sure, some of that was his buy in was greater on the Cavs, but you get my point; shooters gone shoot.