Malik Monk was the center of attention in Talking Stick Resort Arena on Tuesday afternoon as the Phoenix Suns ran the former Kentucky guard through a solo, private workout. Monk, rated number seven on my big board, came into the Valley oozing confidence for the first stop on his tour of NBA franchises.
“I don’t have any (range limit), soon as I step in the gym,” Monk said. “My range further than his (Steph Curry).”
Monk seemed to impress the Suns’ brass that was in attendance, including assistant general manager Pat Connelly, who openly said this was one of the better shooting performances he’s seen in a draft workout the past couple of seasons.
“Looked really good, shot the ball incredibly well from the NBA range,” Connelly said. “Probably one of the better performances we’ve had in the last few years in terms of hitting that deep ball.”
If taken by Phoenix, whether it’s at No. 4 or in a trade scenario, Monk would be a seamless fit into the modern day NBA offensive style that many teams, including Earl Watson’s staff, want to implement.
With how Golden State built it’s roster out with shooters and guards capable of switching onto multiple positions, it’s never a bad thing to add another sniper from the perimeter who has elite driving potential alongside his athleticism.
Remember, shooting translate folks.
Where I’d imagine general manager Ryan McDonough and Connelly wanted to see from Monk Tuesday was his ballhandling and capabilities to run the point in a rotation. Last season in Lexington, Monk played almost exclusively off-ball while having De’Aaron Fox alongside him. Prior, though, he carried much more playmaking responsibility throughout his high school career and AAU circuits. Connelly took a deeper dive into that potential of Monk holding his own at the 1 spot.
“If you go back to some of his high school stuff, he played with the ball,” Connelly said. “I think the threat of the jump shot always makes it easier to be creative when you can use that. As his handle continues to improve, I think he’ll kind of mix more of it in. And again, he’s not just a shooter. He got to the line five times a game without being the primary ball handler was a pretty impressive stat.”
Connelly brings up some great points there on Monk, especially in terms of his free throw attempts as simply a spot-up shooter in most situations on the court. With the skillset Monk possesses, especially when driving and exploding to the rim, you can’t deny the possible upside as someone who can be a major mismatch in ISO against slower-footed players off switches and PnR.
For a potential fit alongside Devin Booker, adding more shooting would be a plus. For a team starved of people who can create for themselves, Monk would be able to provide the versatility of handling multiple roles. Not only could he be just an exclusive spot-up shooter who excels, but he would be able to spell Eric Bledsoe or Tyler Ulis — former fellow Wildcats — as a secondary creator.
From Monk’s point of view, he’d welcome the challenge of playing alongside all of his former Wildcats fighting for minutes at the 1 and 2 spot. With this prospect, there’s no issue with competing, which head coach John Calipari made him do all last season challenging him to become a better all-around player before he took the next step.
Something that really stood out to me speaking with Monk was his supreme confidence. That’s going to win over a team’s front office throughout his workout cycle, whether it’s in Phoenix or elsewhere come June 22.
“I feel like I’m the number one player in the nation right now,” Monk said. “I’ve always been this way, not going to change.”
Dave’s note: Here’s video of Monk yesterday.
Our new Bright Side-line correspondent Evan Sidery (@esidery) is just behind Malik Monk’s right shoulder. Evan asked a few solid questions of both Pat Connelly and Monk. Say hi to Evan!