When the New York Knicks were on the clock with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, it was a bit of a surprise that former University of Kentucky star combo guard Malik Monk was still on the board.
Also passing on former North Carolina State standout point guard Dennis Smith Jr., New York took French teenager Frank Ntilikina with the pick, shocking their fanbase in the process.
Knicks fans and NBA fans in general weren’t the only ones surprised by the move.
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In fact, Smith and Monk were both shocked that they didn’t hear their names called.
“I definitely thought it was possible,” Smith told Stefan Bondy of the the New York Daily News. “I flew in there, I had a great meeting with them. Then the draft came and things just changed. But I’m thankful for everything that did happen.”
“I actually thought the Knicks would take me,” Monk said on the night of the draft.
“I wanted Malik in New York because I thought he would light it up. It would be back on,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said on ESPN’s draft set. “But they must’ve liked the French kid. I’ve not seen him enough, but I hear he’s really good.”
After a couple of months, Monk yet again confirmed that he still can’t believe that he’s not a Knick.
Monk and agent Jeff Schwartz were extremely confident. But, Monk slipped to the 10th selection where Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets drafted him.
Monk’s surprise likely arose because he felt as though he was a perfect fit in New York’s triangle offense. He even went so far as to praise it to reporters, saying there was "A lot of movement. It’s movement off the ball. I move off the ball great. I think it's great for me."
He also expressed a reverence for Phil Jackson, who was still with the Knicks when the pair met for dinner during Monk’s visit with the team. "It was crazy just seeing them there watching me because I've seen him with Kobe and Jordan and great players like that," Monk told ESPN’s Ian Begley afterwards. ”I’m just thankful to be in that situation.”
Monk averaged 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season at Kentucky and established himself as one of the most deadly shooters in the collegiate ranks, knocking down a high-volume of long-range shots at an elite 39.7 percent.
He will, along with Smith, look to make the Knicks regret passing up on him not only in his rookie season, but throughout his NBA career.