Timberwolves Draft Outlook: Malik Monk

Timberwolves Draft Outlook: Malik Monk

Timberwolves

Timberwolves Draft Outlook: Malik Monk

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The Minnesota Timberwolves finished with a league worst 7.3 made three pointers per game in the 2016-2017 NBA regular season. The ACL injury to shooting guard Zach LaVine certainly didn’t help as he was statically the best shooter on the roster and regularly picked up the slack scoring when center Karl-Anthony Towns and small forward Andrew Wiggins struggled.

The Timberwolves have the seventh pick in the 2017 NBA draft and one of the best shooters in this year’s class, University of Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk, may still be on the board at their selection.

Monk obviously would improve the roster from an overall talent perspective, but also gives the Timberwolves the knock-down shooter they so desperately missed last season. Below are the strengths, weaknesses and fit for Monk on the Timberwolves.

Strengths: Shooting. No need to overanalyze this, Monk is a bonafide scorer. He lead the SEC in made three pointers last season while shooting an impressive 39.7 percent from beyond the arc. Monk’s most notable scoring performance came against the University of North Carolina on Dec. 17, 2016 as he posted a career high 47 points, leading the Wildcats to a 103-100 victory over the eventual national champions. In this nationally televised game against the Tar Heels, Monk scored from a variety of spots on the floor, including draining clutch three pointers to tie the game and then to take the lead in the final minute. Enjoy the highlight reel of Monk’s performance which displays his full offensive repertoire.

In addition to jump shooting, Monk also has the ability to drive the lane and finish at the rim or with a soft floater. Monk’s floater will be a critical weapon for him in the NBA considering his undersized stature. The two videos below highlight this area of his offensive game.

Weaknesses: Monk is a 6’3” guard and undersized by NBA standards. While he is athletic and possesses great leaping ability, his defense was inconsistent both on and off the ball. NBA offenses often run pick n’ rolls to have the other team’s worst defender switch onto the ball handler to expose a mismatch. This will likely happen to Monk at the next level given his size and defensive weaknesses.

Fit: What we do know about Monk is that he would immediately be one of the best shooters on the Timberwolves and would be a lethal scoring weapon. However, perhaps something more interesting to consider is what we don’t know about Monk. What other strengths does he possess? How high is Monk’s ceiling?

Time and time again players from Kentucky have skills that go unnoticed or aren’t fully utilized because of the abundance of talent surrounding them. Head coach John Calipari consistently recruits the best high school players in the country and gets them to play within an offensive system. Sometimes that system doesn’t always allow players to showcase their true potential.

For example, Towns scored exclusively from the paint during his time at Kentucky as he was predominately a post player. Little did we know, Towns possessed the ability to shoot the ball from outside and even drive to the rim in some scenarios.  In addition to Towns, Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker also played for Kentucky and averaged only 10 points per game in his sole season with the Wildcats. In his second NBA season, Booker saw his scoring skyrocket to 22.1 points per game, including a 70 point performance against the Boston Celtics on March 24, 2017.

There could be a similar narrative for Monk. Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox was the team’s primary ball handler, while Monk’s role was to spot-up and shoot. In his limited opportunities to handle the ball, Monk ran the pick n’ roll effectively. All three videos show Monk converting pick n’ rolls into points in different ways.

The point is that 38 collegiate games at Kentucky may not have been a large enough sample size to measure everything Monk can do over the course of an 82 game NBA season. Considering head coach Tom Thibodeau played point guard Kris Dunn off the ball late in the season, there could be opportunities for Monk to take on some ball handling responsibilities. Opportunities in which Monk may thrive in if he can develop into a reliable ball handler.

Logan Metzger is a contributor to HowlinTwolf.com. Follow him on Twitter:@loganmetzger33

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