Analysis: Should the Kings draft De’Aaron Fox or Malik Monk?
With a little over two months left until the 2017 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings are faced with what could potentially be the biggest draft in franchise history.
After trading away superstar DeMarcus Cousins, it was obvious that the franchise wanted to move on and enter full rebuild mode. As soon as the contents of the trade were announced it was evermore apparent that the Kings were in search of a young potential star and draft picks.
The New Orleans Pelicans sent over both their first and second round picks in a blink of an eye and left Sacramento in control of their own destiny. It doesn’t happen too often where a team gets the potential to draft twice in the top 10 and this became a real possibility thanks to the Cousins trade.
When you breakdown the Kings’ past draft classes and you analyze the talent received it is very obvious that the franchise took some swings, and missed. Although not all past picks have grown sour, it’s the scoring and leadership available in the upcoming draft that can lift the Kings from the depths of the Western Conference.
For instance, in the Western Conference, the style of play is much faster than that of the east and the guards remain supreme. As for the East Conference, the blue-collar work ethic is like no other and is home to some of the most hard-nosed teams in basketball.
But what does this mean for the Kings? It means that the Kings need a premier athletic scoring guard. A scorer who is not selfish and one who could gel with the current young nucleus this team has.
With two picks in the first round, the Kings have the opportunity to take their franchise to new heights. Not only will Sacramento be able to draft a guard near the 5th pick if everything goes well, they will have another opportunity at a premier guard about three to four picks later.
The rebuilding process in the Western Conference is primarily focused around a major scorer or game changing guard. For instance, we see the likes of James Harden, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook take their teams to the top alongside their individual success. This is feasible for the Kings if they can muster up if not one but maybe two franchise cornerstone guards.
After six years of a Kentucky product in Cousins, a second year Kentucky product in Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento drafted Skal Labissiere, another Kentucky one and done in their last draft. In this years draft, the Kings have the chance to snag one or maybe both of the Kentucky one and done’s in De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
Sacramento is projected to obtain the 8th and 10th overall picks in the draft and taking a Kentucky guy doesn’t seem like a long shot after all. If the trend repeats itself, this could be the third straight year the Kings have drafted a Kentucky player.
If still available, the Kings would greatly improve by drafting a young point guard in Fox but have a higher probability of locking in Monk as he is projected as a later top ten selection.
Although the Kings recently acquired Buddy Hield via the Cousins trade, don’t rule out the high chance that Sacramento will draft a future superstar guard. Monk and Fox arguably had one of the most remarkable years from a Kentucky duo since the 2009 John Wall and Cousins season.
Monk averaged an SEC second best 19.8 points per game while Fox averaged a SEC best 4.6 assists to go along with 16.7 points and four rebounds.
Why would Fox and Monk be a good fit in Sacramento?
After drafting an abundance of young big men, it is time for the Kings to draft their sought out young super star guard. Both Fox and Monk are 19 years old and have shown that they are capable of playing with an NBA ready player at Kentucky.
Drafting Fox would fill the void of a young superstar guard that the Kings are so desperately in search for. To coincide with the young core of big men that the Kings already have, expanding the long term development to the point guard position could be beneficial to the future of the franchise.
With the soon departure of Ty Lawson this offseason alongside veteran Darren Collison, Sacramento could and most likely will look deep into the point guard situation come June.
Although most scouts had Monk going over Fox early in the year, Fox expanded his game far beyond what most expected. Despite poor three point shooting, Fox mimics a young John Wall coming out of Kentucky.
Underweight but with lightning quick speed and athleticism, Fox could potentially grow into a well-versed player in his early years in the NBA. Many GM’s draft on potential and not how good the player is at the moment, but Fox is good at the moment in my opinion.
Fox led Kentucky to an elite eight run that showed that he is ready for the big stage. A 39-point performance over high draft prospect Lonzo Ball opened the eyes of many front offices that they may need to take the not so distant leap of faith on Fox.
What Sacramento has been lacking is that feel good team player and Fox is just that. Now that the dark cloud that Cousins held over the franchise is now gone, this leaves the door open for a young mind to help shape the youthful roster that the Kings are building.
Some mock drafts have Fox going in the top five but if he slips into the later part of the top ten, look for the Kings to come swoop in on the prize.
The more probable selection for the Kings is Monk. A player who arguably all season long was the best offensive threat in college basketball sits around the later top ten in almost all draft boards. Monk is easily compared to Jamal Crawford because of his aggressive shooting combined with the ability to score from anywhere.
Monk shot a near 40 percent from three while shooting 82 percent from the free throw line in his first year at Kentucky. Although the Kings have a player in Hield who would take the majority of playing time away from Monk, the pick is a must if he is still available.
Monk has a shooting skillset that is needed in the NBA but is hard to find. He has that unconscious shooting stroke which can be Curry like at times.
What intrigues scouts the most about Monk is that he is not just a shooter, he plays above the rim and he can guard either the one or the two. Although Monk showed off his high-flying display all year long at Kentucky, it was his defense that stood out the most.
His run and gun mentality allows him to jump passing lanes and play in your face defense on almost every possession forcing turnovers and fast break opportunities quite frequently.
Monk is a dangerous transition guard who can score in a flurry. With the way that the NBA is going regarding athletic three point shooting guards, Monk would fit well with virtually every team in the NBA and could be used in multiple different lineups.
Even though he is a shooter, Monk has the capability of running an offense and getting his teammates open. If he were to get drafted by Sacramento, I would expect for the Kings to use him in small ball situations alongside Hield.
Although drafting Fox may seem like a stretch to some, his name may still be available when the Kings are called upon. Whether or not the Kings win the rights to Fox, the probability of Sacramento drafting a Kentucky player for the third straight year remains high.
As the draft approaches big boards change, players jump one another and some players fall out. Depending on how well the combine goes as well as the team workouts, the Kings may show their direction early in June.