Malik Monk's draft stock has steadily risen, especially as the Philadelphia 76ers, who own the No. 3 pick, are among the teams to consider the former Kentucky guard. As he began to work out in New York as part of his draft preparation last month, the youngster coyly said he was hoping he wouldn't necessarily get the opportunity to play for the Knicks, optimistic a team would draft him before No. 8.
In the year of the point guard, New York would only be so lucky if Monk happens to be available. Of course, Monk is seemingly behind other floor generals in his draft class -- Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and De'Aaron Fox among them. Still, that doesn't change the fact that the Knicks would still reel in an elite prospect at the 1 if they can pick him up.
Each prospect in this draft class (especially the point guards) has evident flaws in his game. Monk is no different. Plus, even after an impressive NCAA tournament, his former teammate Fox may have a bit of an edge. That said, Monk isn't too far behind and comes relatively close to being the Knicks' idealistic choice.
Playing in New York, and being able to do so successfully, means that players need to boast somewhat of an edge. They need to learn the balance between embracing and drowning out the media. When hitting the hardwood, performing under the bright lights of the Big Apple comes with its own level of pressure.
Not everyone can handle it, but Monk shows plenty of promise. He's played on big stages before. As a Kentucky product, he's learned from the best and knows what it means to compete at a high level. He seems to crave the opportunity to shine with the ball in his hands. He doesn't shy away. Not everyone can say they do the same.
Is Monk too hungry to be "the man" for New York? That's a big question surrounding his game and a potential fit with the Knicks. Monk is explosive around the rim, very quick and can seamlessly hit pull-up jumpers from beyond the arc in transition. There's no doubt Monk would be able to score in bunches. Much like his fellow prospect Dennis Smith Jr., Monk's skill set may draw similar comparisons to Derrick Rose, who also played under John Calipari, than more of a distributing point guard.
After playing alongside Fox at Kentucky, Monk had to become accustomed to playing off the ball and looking for his own offense. It remains to be seen whether he can easily make that switch and be depended on, especially at the NBA level.
The good news is that at this point in their transition, the Knicks should have the time to let Monk grow. They can exercise patience. He's a versatile talent who is used to defending multiple positions. At 6-foot-4, he could have a size and strength advantage against opposing floor generals.
As a member of the Knicks, Monk would have to be flexible, eager to learn and willing to adapt to change. He might garner even more cheer and praise by dishing out fancy dimes than draining a 3-point bomb. The Knicks would need to guide him toward understanding that to ensure he fits their system properly -- should he be available when the Knicks pick.