Since Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks have recommitted to running the triangle, Malik Monk needs to be their first-round selection.
The 2016-17 NBA season has not gone as planned for the New York Knicks. Expectations were skyhigh with possible home court advantage in the first round. Currently, with a record of 27-42, those expectations are only a dream and at this point, New York is battling for a better draft position rather than a playoff seed.
Monk is a freshman guard from the University of Kentucky. He is next in the lineage of star players to be one and done in college under John Calipari. The Wildcat averaged 20.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game during his lone season in Lexington. He shot 45.7 percent from the floor and 40.3 percent from behind the three-point arch on his way to winning the SEC Player of the Year award.
More than sheer numbers, however, this guy is perfect for the Knickerbockers.
Fit for the Triangle
The Knicks have committed to the triangle offense, again. Phil Jackson has even recently started teaching the offense to the guards on the roster himself. As long as Jackson is around, the triangle is not going anywhere.
The triangle does not need a ball dominant point guard to be successful. It relies on ball movement, players cutting and knocking down the open shot. Point guards like Steve Kerr, John Paxson, B.J. Armstrong and Derek Fisher all flourished in the offense. They succeeded because they were knock down three-point shooters who did not have to be the primary ball handler. Monk’s skill-set is tailor made for the triangle. Think of it like a mixture of the Knicks previous two starting point guards, Jose Calderon and Derrick Rose.
He is a three-point shooter who possesses the ability to get to the rim. His 2.4 assists per game do not reflect his ability and willingness to pass the ball since he was the two guard at Kentucky. He is also a better defender than either one of the previous two point guards. Monk has the speed to stay in front of his man unlike Calderon and the size to fight through pick and roll screens unlike Rose.
If not Monk, then who?
The Knicks will more than likely be drafting from either the sixth, seventh or eighth spot. That means Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith Jr. Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum will already have heard their names called before it is even New York’s turn. There are other options in this draft for New York. The problem is that the other players just do not fill the long standing need like Malik Monk.
Jonathan Issac is a versatile power forward from Florida State University. With Carmelo Anthony refusing to waive his no trade clause and the emergence of Willy Hernangomez, New York should look to address more pressing needs. Frank Ntilikina is a 6-foot-5 point guard from France. He makes an intriguing option for Phil Jackson. Ntilikina is not a great shooter yet and that is what a triangle point guard needs to be successful. The last player that should be in the running is a teammate of Monk. De’Aaron Fox is a 6-foot-4 point guard. Like Ntilikina, Fox is not that great of a shooter either. That and his rawness may cause New York to stick with Monk.
Should the Knicks draft Monk no matter what pick they receive? Of course not, but based on their current position, the players that will be available and their needs, New York needs to draft Malik Monk.