Malik Monk is having an incredible year shooting the ball.
Through 14 games, Monk is averaging 21.7 points per game, which ranks 16th nationally in scoring, second among all freshmen, and first in the SEC. He’s scored in double figures in every game this season and has nine games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs North Carolina.
Ever since that epic game against the Tar Heels, Monk has shot up NBA Draft big boards. That includes ESPN draft expert Chad Ford’s big board. Ford now has him at No. 4 on his big board, as does former NBA GM Kevin Pelton.
Ford and Pelton love Monk’s efficient shooting, and his ability to score from anywhere.
Here’s what Ford had to say.
My No. 4 pick is a guy I'm guessing you don't have in your top five: Kentucky freshman Malik Monk. He has been the best scorer in college basketball as a freshman, averaging 22 points and shooting 41 percent from 3 on nearly eight attempts per game.
He's one-dimensional, which I think probably affects his statistical projection, but Monk can score from everywhere. He's shooting 74 percent at the rim and 49 percent on his 2-point jumpers. He's possibly the best athlete in the draft as well.
I'd love to see Monk's rebounding, assists and steals numbers improve. And I think some scouts believe he'll be able to make the transition to the point in the NBA, negating his biggest weakness -- a lack of size for his position as a 2-guard.
Sure, he’s one-dimensional, but scorers like Monk are extremely rare, and that’s what makes him such a highly-rated guard for Ford.
Here’s what Pelton had to say about Monk.
As compared to the other top prospects, Monk figures to be a more efficient scorer even with his projected 3-point percentage regressed heavily to the mean (35.0 percent). The effective shooting inside the arc you mention helps offset that, and rebounding is Monk's only huge weakness statistically.
The only players ahead of Monk for Ford and Pelton are Washington guard Markelle Fultz, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball and Kansas wing Josh Jackson. According to Ford, this is a draft in which no one is a clear favorite, and even Fultz holds just a slight edge over his competition.
This means that Monk has just as much a shot at the No. 1 pick as some of the guys around him on the current big boards. While he may not jump up all three spots, No. 4 is a great place to be, with room for Monk to move up with plenty of season left for the elite freshman scorer.