March 30, 2017
While we’re still in prime season for NFL mock drafts (get your Eagles only mock right here!), their NBA counterparts haven’t truly heated up yet. Part of the reason for this is, as we wrote about with the Sixers first-round draft pick tracker, the draft order at the top end is still pretty fluid. We also have a little thing called the lottery coming up in May.
But there are still plenty of NBA mock drafts being produced in March. For today, I’d like to focus on one Kentucky guard that is being linked with the Sixers.
Monk to Philadelphia is so obvious that I’m tempted to stay away from it (I had Isaac here last week). It’s hard to deny the fit, though. With Ben Simmons at the controls, the Sixers need athletes and shot makers around him. Monk is exactly that.
Kentucky’s Elite Eight loss to North Carolina gave us a peek at the full Monk experience: He went 15 minutes in the second half without scoring, then hit two amazing threes to tie the game before Luke Maye’s buzzer-beater. He’s a joy to watch.
With Joel Embiid in the middle, Ben Simmons expected to facilitate and Dario Saric suddenly a key piece up front, the Philadelphia 76ers' search radius should be narrow. It won't take long before it zeroes in on Malik Monk.
The 76ers need his scoring and shot-making, particularly next to Simmons, who isn't a shooter. Monk is streaky and converts in bunches, but his ability to connect on jumpers off screens, spot-ups and transition—without the one-on-one dribbles—bodes well for his fit alongside Simmons and Embiid.
There may not be a better landing spot for Monk that Philadelphia. The 76ers have already announced their intentions to use Ben Simmons as their primary ball-handler, which would allow Monk to be the so-called point guard. He could defend opposing point guards, limiting the effect that his lack of size (6-foot-3) would have on the defensive end and be free to run off the ball as a shooter on offense.
Draft Express has the Kings picking Monk fifth overall, but they didn’t account for the swap rights yet. Let’s assume the Sixers would pick him there in DX’s mock draft too.
Rich’s Take: Monk’s catch-and-shoot skillset might provide more value to the Sixers than any other team. He is a bit one-dimensional at times, but that dimension is elite and valuable for a team that needs floor spacing above anything else at the guard spots.
The regional final against North Carolina was an interesting game for Monk because he was quiet most of the night and then made some incredibly tough shots late in the game. UNC reversed the tables from last year’s title game against Villanova and Marcus Paige’d Monk’s ridiculously difficult game-tying three. Still, this was an absurd shot:
(I understand why the refs didn’t call it, but you could easily argue that Monk got fouled on that play as well.)
As the Sixers are mocked in the 5-7 range until the lottery happens, I imagine we’ll continue to see Monk being paired up with Philadelphia. And even if there are prospects like Markelle Fultz that I like better in the draft, Monk really doesn’t seem like a bad outcome.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann