Would Mavericks Fans Be This Hyped for Malik Monk?
By Kohl Rast
When the Dallas Mavericks selected Dennis Smith Jr., everyone got immediately excited. Would that excitement have been the same had they selected Malik Monk, another top draft prospect?
During the 2017 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks patiently waited until the 9th overall pick to see who would be the team’s newest addition. When the top 8 were gone, the Mavs best options were undoubtedly Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk. How the two most athletic players in the draft (in my opinion) dropped all the way to the 9th and 11th selections is beyond me but I can’t complain.
The hype is real surrounding Dennis Smith Jr., which we have all seen so far. Although there has probably been little recognition of Malik Monk by Mavs fans, it is important to note that he was projected as a top 10 pick and has been doing well so far this preseason, averaging 16 points per game. So, the question is, would the Mavs fans be this hyped if they picked Monk and never even thought about Dennis Smith Jr.?
To answer that question, we really have to look at it in depth. The root of that question is essentially, were the Mavs excited to get any decent rookie at all, or are we particularly impressed by DSJ? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to June 22, 2017.
On the night of the draft, no one really knew what was going to happen. Mavs fanatics had filled out and changed their draft board at least a dozen times, and the fear of a trade was persistent and scary. We knew that there was no way Dallas would end up with Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson, and likely Jayson Tatum as well. As the projected top 5, none of them would be falling all the way to 9.
This left the next picks to fall in some random order of: Jonathan Isaac, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Malik Monk, Lauri Markkanen, and Zach Collins. Many analysts had DSJ ranked as early as 6 and Malik Monk as early as 7, and the Mavs were preparing themselves for a very young, very unproven, Frank Ntilikina at the 9th spot.
When Isaac got picked at 6 and Chicago shocked the world by taking Markkanen at 7, it became clear that Dallas was going to have either Dennis Smith Jr. or Malik Monk available when their own clock started. Immediately people started lobbying for who they hoped would be left for Dallas and, sadly, I was heavy on the Monk bandwagon.
Dallas knew that the Knicks were high on Ntilikina, they just didn’t know exactly how high that was. When Dallas had BOTH options available, people really started to voice their opinions. The dire need for a point guard in Dallas seemed obvious, but passing up on an athletic shooter/scorer like Monk seemed like a questionable decision as well.
The Mavs decided to fill their positional need, and it soon became clear that they also took the best player available. Mavs fans quickly forgot about Malik Monk as they found their newest love in the sweet dunking of DSJ. Life is good.
Now that we have all realized the skill level of Junior, we can talk a little bit about the decision to take him over Monk. Were Mavs fans just ready for young talent or has DSJ made an optimist out of us all? The answer is both.
Dallas has been in need of a young, bouncy, exciting player for a very long time. Although we all love Dirk and would give just about anything to be able to watch his youthful years one more time, the thought of Dallas being on the nightly highlight reel is pretty exciting. Knowing that Dennis Smith Jr. is more than just a supremely athletic kid is really where the excitement comes in though.
Junior has his head screwed on right, he is willing to work to get better, and he has quickly proven that his passing and rebounding are going to get a lot better as the years go on. His pairing with the sharpshooters of Seth Curry, Wesley Matthews, and Dirk Nowitzki are going to be noticed, and the lob threat of Nerlens Noel will wreak havoc on opposing teams.
All this is not to say that Dallas would not be excited about a very talented player like Malik Monk. Monk is possibly the best shooter to come out of the draft, has serious explosiveness, and is a pretty good decision maker as well. He may not be the physical specimen that DSJ is, but he is no slouch either.
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Dallas would have been happy regardless of who we got on draft night. However, despite the excellent play Malik Monk has displayed between college and his early games in the NBA, there is no doubt that DSJ has proven to be one of the best picks Dallas has made in a long time. We would be happy with Monk, but Mavs fans are much happier with Junior.