With the 2017 NBA Draft rapidly approaching, the time has come to speculate wildly about where the Kentucky Wildcats may end up. Perhaps the most interesting case from last year’s Elite Eight team is Malik Monk.
Monk has not garnered as much pre-draft buzz as De’Aaron Fox, but his playing situation for next year is much more up in the air. Most analysts have Monk being drafted anywhere from #6 to #10 in their recent mock drafts. This feels like a comfortable range for him, although with the lack of elite shooters in this class, it isn’t impossible that he might sneak up higher.
The Orlando Magic own the #6 pick this year, and they are a team of misfit toys. They are extremely shooting-deficient, especially from the three-point line. None of the Magic’s guards shoot the ball particularly well, especially Elfrid Payton, their starting point-guard. Evan Fournier is probably the best shooter on their team, averaging 44% FGP and 36% from three last season.
The Magic also have Jodie Meeks on their roster, but he’s far removed from his University of Jodie Meeks days. The Orlando roster is very odd and doesn’t make much sense, so it’s hard to say who will remain on their roster after this offseason. However, Malik Monk would be a great pick for them.
A young, elite three-point shooter is exactly what they lack on their current roster. No guarantees, obviously, but Monk would be a great guy to have an immediate impact in Orlando if he can stay consistent from the start.
At #7, the awesome prospect of Monk joining fellow Kentucky Alum Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota becomes a real possibility. The Timberwolves are full of young talent, and their collective athleticism is off the charts. The roster is well balanced and stacked with future stars like Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and of course, Towns.
It’s unclear what position the Timberwolves will attempt to draft, but if an elite point guard is still on the board, that may very well be the pick. They have been somewhat underwhelmed with their selections at point, with Ricky Rubio still getting the lion’s share of the minutes even after adding Tyus Jones and Kris Dunn to the roster.
Monk would definitely come off the bench in this scenario, though he may still see the floor. If Minnesota doesn’t attempt to add yet another point guard, Monk could be the pick.
Probably the most interesting potential landing spot for Monk is with the Knicks at #8. There have been rumors that the Knicks would entertain the idea of playing Monk at point guard in their Triangle Offense. This seems sure to be either genius or a complete disaster. On one hand, the Triangle would be good for Monk at point because he wouldn’t need to make as many reads.
Since the Triangle has predetermined actions and reactions, he would simply follow the system and wouldn’t have the ball in his hands as much as a traditional point guard. However, the Triangle is an awkward system to learn. Monk is very much a play-by-feel type player, which may leave him limited in such a strict system. It’s worth noting that the Knicks couldn’t get Derrick Rose to even attempt to run the Triangle last year, so it might be better for Monk to avoid New York.
With that said, if Malik is available at #8, he may not have any choice. It’s very hard to see him slipping to the Mavericks at #9. If that were to happen, he would join former Cats, Nerlens Noel and Deandre Liggins. Even though the Mavericks are a bad team, they are saturated with good guards.
Monk would probably not see the floor, but would certainly have time to develop on the bench and hone his game. That would be great for Monk’s development, but he would not get the spotlight he clearly shines in.
If Malik were to be available at #10, it seems almost certain that the Kings would draft him, considering their history with Kentucky guys. They need all the help they can get since their roster was upended last year when they traded Demarcus Cousins to New Orleans. In that scenario, it could be possible for the Kings to get a Kentucky double-play if they also draft De’Aaron Fox at #5, which seems fairly likely.
If the Kings were to add those two guards to the frontcourt duo of Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere, that could be the making of a young, dynamic contender. And they would also be required to officially change their team name to Kentucky West.
Wherever Monk ends up, time will tell his true potential. With all the buzz and drama surrounding this year’s draft, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him anywhere. His shooting ability makes him a commodity for any team, so don’t blink on Thursday night.