Sixer Draft Files: Is Malik Monk a reach at 3?

Last year the Sixers had the number one pick and the choice was easy. This year, the Sixers are in a more tricky position with the number three pick, and with so many options, we will take a look at each player that could fall to the team.

It's almost as if those old Nerlens Noel versus Jahlil Okafor debates fans have had for the last year and a half have been reincarnated ever since the Sixers landed the third pick in the draft on May 16th, only this time it seems to be between Malik Monk and Josh Jackson and which player is the right choice come draft night. 

The front office, of course, doesn't look at it that way, and they shouldn't. There are a number of things they could do, there could be players mocked in the 4-9 range that could impress the Sixers in private workouts, interviews, tape study and some those prospects can shoot up the rankings on a lot of big boards in the weeks leading up to June 22nd. The team could explore trading back in the draft for better value if they know a player they like will fall into the late lottery range. While it's fun to speculate and debate about which road to take, for now, we'll break down prospects the team will be looking at with the third pick, assuming Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball go to the Celtics and Lakers respectively and assuming the Sixers don't look to trade down in the draft. 

The one prospect that seemingly fits the need of a shooter/scoring combo guard, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, is a prospect that has sparked debate among those who want to fill a need versus those who have had Kansas forward Josh Jackson as the second or third best prospect in the draft. While Jackson does a lot of things well on the court, scouts and fans have well documented, and legitimate, concerns with Jackson's jump shot, making him a tough fit next to Ben Simmons who will assume the point guard duties. On the other side, taking Monk with the third pick would be considered a reach at that spot giving that his weaknesses are basically everything that Jackson does well. Having the third pick in the draft is great “problem” to have of course, but it almost seems like the team is in a trickier spot because they are trying to find pieces to fit around Simmons and Joel Embiid, rather than having relatively easier choices with the first or second pick. So why is Malik Monk considered a reach at three? 

Weaknesses

Let’s start with the weaknesses first because I really do like Monk as a prospect, and has more facets to his game that I like.

When I first started watching Monk at Kentucky, I wondered if he suffered from being pigeon-holed into a certain role on the team like Wildcat prospects of yesteryear. I thought of former Wildcats like Devin Booker coming off the bench and strictly playing the role of spot up shooter, but now, as we have seen the last few years, Booker is a versatile scorer, who can run pick and roll, and dropped 70 freaking points in an NBA game as a 20-year-old. Jamal Murray at least showed some flashes of being a solid pick and roll player and a creator during his rookie year with the Denver Nuggets, after playing the role of a shooter/scorer at Kentucky as well.

It made you wonder if Monk had more to his game than what he showed. If that was the case, then Monk would seem to be the perfect fit to play alongside Ben Simmons. A “point-guard” who can mainly play off the ball, shoot, create a little bit, and run some pick and roll in a pinch.

After studying more games however it’s become clearer why Monk played the role of off-ball shooter/scorer. It’s because…well… he is typically an off-ball player with an off-ball skill-set.

Ball handling

Monk’s handle has shown slight flashes but for the most part, it's basic. If he dribbled three or four times in a possession to try and beat his defender, then that was a rarity. His in between game usually comes in one or two dribble move pull-ups and floaters and that’s after he already has a head start coming off a curl or off a screen or taking off in transition.

His lack of advanced handle gave defenders a beat on when he would try to take a shot, due in part because he didn’t have enough moves, or creativity. He’d usually take a quick jumper or would always take off for a floater or layup a tick too soon, and while it was hit or miss (shooting 49 percent in the paint), one more dribble or a hesitation move could’ve given him a better angle or chance at a cleaner look.