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Phoenix Suns Prospect Preview: Malik Monk... another Kentucky guard anyone?

If Ryan McDonough can get a second lottery pick... maybe

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs North Carolina Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Monk is the shooting guard we all wished that Phoenix Suns draftee Archie Goodwin could have become. Both freakishly athletic, quick, explosive leapers that can finish at the rim and both went to Kentucky (and both were born in Arkansas).

But the comparison quickly breaks down after that. Most importantly, Monk has a very good jump shot and hit 39.7% of his threes in his freshman year. He has proven to be a fairly good off the ball defender and held his own on the ball mostly but his defensive intensity and discipline were inconsistent.

He's a little undersized for an NBA shooting guard (6'3" in shoes) and the Suns already have a potential All-Star shooting guard in Devin Booker so why are we bothering to profile Malik Monk?

Because he's good, very good and no NBA team can have enough shooters. It's highly doubtful that Ryan McDonough would use the Suns' #4 pick in the draft to select Monk but if he can pull of some sort of voodoo hoodoo like he did last year to get the Suns a second lottery pick then Monk might be a player he would look at depending on what McD has to trade away to get that second lottery pick. No, I'm not even hinting that McDonough might trade away Booker to get another lottery pick but the one-two punch of Booker with Monk coming off the bench at shooting guard could be a deadly combination right out of the gate. And they certainly could play together in small-ball lineups at times.

But lets take a deeper look at Monk before getting into too much speculation.


Malik Monk

Position: Shooting Guard

Height: 6'3" (in shoes)

Weight: 197 lb

Wingspan: 6'3 1/2" (as measured at Kentucky, he was measured as having a 6'6" wingspan earlier more than once)

Vertical Leap: 42"

Stats (Kentucky Wildcats): 19.8 points (39.7% 3P shooting), 2.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 2.0 TO

Best assets: Super athletic, prolific scorer both at and away from the rim

NBA comparisons: C.J. McCollum/Louis Williams/Eric Gordon


Strengths

Scoring is what you are going to get if you draft Monk. He is a very good outside shooter who can hit the three but can also drive to and finish at the rim although he's primarily a jump shooter. He didn't prove himself to be great at creating his own shot but he didn't have to at Kentucky but he showed skill at using quick dribbles and fakes to get off a clean shot at the basket.

If you draft Monk you are drafting him for his offense because there is nothing else that really stands out about his game. That does not mean that he's bad in other areas of his game just that offense is what he excels at.

Whether its a catch and shoot or off the dribble Monk can be a deadly jump shooter. He's also explosive enough to get to the rim and give you some highlight dunks or soft touch floaters at times. He also uses his quick first step to get free when the ball isn't in his hands which leads to scoring opportunities for him.

He handles the ball well in the open court and is a very good transition player which would make him a good fit for the Suns.

He isn't a very physical player but draws fouls at a good rate and shoots 82% from the line.

Offense, offense, offense... that is Malik's strength. That is why any team will draft him.

Weaknesses

First off, it's obvious that at 6'3" Monk is undersized to play shooting guard in the NBA. Offensively this might not be too much of a problem for him but defensively it already has been at the college level. The already "defensively challenged" Suns would not benefit by adding him to their roster on that end. But he has the tools to be at least an average defender in the NBA - quickness, great vertical leap - but at times he gets caught ball watching and not concentrating on defense.

Monk is a good but not great passer which should be a warning sign to people who think that he could be made over as an NBA point guard. He is also not a great ball handler under pressure. I would hesitate to even label him as a potential combo guard. He is a guy who is at his best with the ball in his hands for just a few seconds before attempting to score. And he will attempt to do that but he's not a ball stopper who will dribble the air out of the ball playing ISO. He will either get off a quick shot or pass. The problem is that he doesn't always make the right decision in those situations but his ability to make contested shots sometimes bails him out... but his lack of passing skill/judgment probably leads him to taking more of those types of shots than he should at times.

As a rebounder, he was so-so in college which would lead you to believe that he wouldn’t suddenly become better in the NBA.

Some of his weaknesses bring back memories of Archie Goodwin but his strengths outweigh those in my opinion.

Summery

Malik Monk is not the guy that the Suns should take with the 4th pick. An undersized shooting guard that projects to be an average to under-average defender in the NBA would just be a wasted pick at #4 with Devin Booker already on board.

But the Suns presently have no solid backup for Booker and Monk could slide right into that spot from day one. While you don't usually draft someone in the lottery to be a backup, if the Suns somehow wind up with a second pick in this draft then Monk might actually be a good choice with the later pick. And if he develops into a starting caliber shooting guard... well, I can't think of a better "problem" for an NBA team to have than possessing two starting level players at one position.

And you can never have too many three point shooters in the NBA.