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Kentucky star on switch to point guard?

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 1:40 am    Post subject: Kentucky star on switch to point guard? Reply with quote

The Knicks hope they will have a chance to decide whether Kentucky combo guard Malik Monk can play point guard in the NBA.
Some NBA executives believe Kentucky’s leading scorer needs to make the switch to point to solidify himself as a viable NBA starter because of his size and wingspan.
The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter, in some mock drafts, is slated to go sixth to the Magic, who need perimeter scoring after shooting 32 percent from 3-point range this season. With the seventh pick, the Timberwolves are leaning toward a wing Bennie Fowler Authentic Jersey player such as Monk over a bigger player. An NBA source said Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota’s coach and president, has considered trading down, too.
The Knicks will have to wait on the Timberwolves because they pick eighth.
“[Monk is] a volume shooter,’’ a Western Conference executive said. “He’s all about cutting and moving. He’s a helluva shooter. … With him, he needs to play point and it’s not a position he wants to play. He’s a talented kid, but a 6-3, two-guard is tiny.’’
Before the NBA Draft Combine, CBS college basketball analyst Wally Szczerbiak told The Post he sees Monk as a fit for the triangle offense because he can play the point in Phil Jackson’s system, which doesn’t have an overreliance on a single playmaker.
“He might be able to point in the triangle system,’’ said Szczerbiak, who also works for MSG Network as studio analyst. “A system for a guy who’s not a playmaker and used to playing off the ball would be perfect. Dribble the ball up the floor and enter the ball into the triangle and running the cuts and motion to get him open looks. That would bode well for him. He’s really good off ball, coming off screens. The best player in this draft coming off the ball. [But] he’s a little streaky.’’
Szczerbiak gave three comparisons. At worst, he said, Monk will be like former Knicks first-rounder Tim Hardaway Jr. At best, he will be another Ray Allen. Somewhere in the high middle, there’s Suns standout Devin Booker, formerly of Kentucky.
“He’s not as consistent as Ray, but definitely has the ability to have explosive scoring nights like Booker,’’ Szczerbiak said.
The athletic, dunking guard made 39.7 percent of his 3-point attempts as a freshman, averaged a team-high 19.8 points and torched eventual NCAA champion North Carolina for 47 points early in the season.
“Don’t let him get hot. If he gets hot, it’s over,’’ Kentucky backcourt mate De’Aaron Fox said at this week’s draft lottery.
“He’s as dynamic a scorer Kentucky has ever had there,’’ one assistant college coach said at the combine. “I didn’t think they’d get anyone like Jamal Murray [now with the Nuggets] again. They do it in different ways, but If Cameron Maybin Authentic Jersey Monk catches fire, he’s one of those who puts a team on his back and carries it.’’
Monk did not play point guard as a freshman because of Fox’s playmaking brilliance. Fox is expected to be gone by the fifth pick, leaving the Knicks with point-guard options such as North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr. and French League project Frank Ntilikina, as well as North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson, and Monk — if he drops — from which to choose.
Phil Jackson made it clear he’s looking for a point guard, a shooting guard or a small forward because of his glut of bigs under contract(Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Joakim Noah, Kyle O’Quinn, Marshall Plumlee). He also has Carmelo Anthony on the trading block.
“We’re looking for the best player at this point to fit what we need,’’ Jackson said.
Monk is the most accomplished and appealing. He led Kentucky to the SEC title before the Wildcats’ season ended with a last-second loss to North Carolina in the Elite Eight. But Monk has his warts: his size, streakiness and erratic defense. There were rumblings during his AAU career of inconsistent effort: lightning in one game, lacking energy in another. He mostly dispelled the effort issue, but not the size issue.
ESPN draft whiz Fran Fraschilla sees him as a career sixth man.
“I wish he was 6-5 and not 6-3 with an average wingspan, because for me the poster child for Malik Monk is what Jamal Crawford has done in his career,’’ Fraschilla said at the combine. “Once he settles into his NBA career, he is going to be a scorer off the bench. I know he probably wouldn’t want to hear that, but he still is a volume shooter. He had the ultimate green light in high school. He had a green light at Kentucky. It actually hurt them at times.
“But the fact he’s undersized, with a below-average wingspan for the position, He is going to have to become what I call a technician, really going to have to work on NBA footwork, creating space and separation. You get to mold them with your coaching staff. … His NBA future is a lead off-the-bench scorer.”
No surprise, Kentucky coach John Calipari disagrees.
“Malik Monk is special, folks,’’ Calipari said. “There’s stuff he does — you just iso him. He can play a 1 or 2, head’s on the rim, he’s fast, good with the ball, a scorer. But he can do other things. Defensively, he can be that guy. But they’re all young. They’re 19. They can’t get a beer or go to a club.”
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