With the draft just 2 days away, we have already examined a number of the draft’s hotly debated player debates. Lonzo Ball vs. Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson vs Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox vs. Dennis Smith among others.
Despite not playing the same position, Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac and Kentucky’s Malik Monk are two of the best scorers and shooters available, and are seen in roughly the same spot in the lottery in the 6-9 range. Despite being a bit of an unorthodox match up, we believe they form an under the radar debate worthy of flushing out.
Monk, the freshman hot hand shooting guard, was one of the driving forces that led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight before falling to North Carolina. Isaac, the ranging and lengthy combo forward, and the Seminoles were upset in the Round of 32 by Xavier after a very impressive freshman season in the ACC.
These two players are clearly at different positions but can bring great value to teams in the top 10 with their shot creation ability. For a team with a need for a floor spreader, both players offer intrigue. Here’s a comparison of two of the better pull up jump shooters available in this year’s draft.
Size and Measurements
Measurements are some of the basic building blocks to determining which player fits which franchise. Neither of these players attended the NBA Draft Combine so their measurements come from before the season at their pro days.
Starting with basic height and weight. It is important to note that many of these numbers have changed since the season began, such as weight.
Monk stands at 6’3, which is a good size for an NBA shooting guard. Isaac towers at 6’10.5, nearly seven foot, as a small forward and this makes him incredibly tall for his position and borderline power forward.
Monk stands in at 197 pounds, good muscle and size for a shooting guard and the team that drafts him will hope he adds more muscle while not gaining too much more weight. Isaac is a lean 205 pounds, barely more than Monk, for a forward. This is what allows him to be so rangy and lengthy.
Length and reach are so important in today’s game. Isaac’s wingspan is a whopping 7’1.5 compared to Monk’s 6’4.25. Isaac’s reach is a ridiculous 9’.05 to Monk’s 8’.3.
For a shooting guard, Monk has some very good measurements in the height, weight and length departments. Isaac, though, has some incredible body attributes that not only fit into today’s NBA game, but immediately put him in elite company.
A lot of the top pics in the draft this season will be selected based on their offensive abilities, such as Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and others. It’s that rangy, fluid and explosive aspect that many GM’s will look for from top prospects that could separate them from the pack. Athleticism could make a player go from the mid to end of the first round to top five.
What’s interesting to think about in terms of athletic ability is most top prospects either have it or don’t have it heading into their NBA careers. Athleticism is a trait that is learned and discovered at young ages but not enhanced as much in the later future.
Monk at Kentucky this past season was a solid defender, could create his own shot and showed all out hustle for loose balls in transition. He’s a high flyer capable of getting way above the rim and also has incredible speed in the open floor. He still needs to add a lot of strength, which would help him to absorb contact better and fully utilize his athleticism.
Isaac, just being built with a massive frame, long body and light weight makes him quick and able to cover a lot of ground on the court. He only averaged 12 points per game, but was one of the best and most aggressive rebounders in the ACC averaging 7.8 and always got in on the boards. He also averaged an incredible 1.5 blocks per game and was a presence on the glass. He got after it on defense too, with 1.2 steals per contest. He has been praised for his lateral quickness at keeping his man in front of him on defense and having the speed to blow by defenders on offense.
Both guys were animals on the court and gave it their all, but in terms of raw athleticism Monk gets the slight edge.
When looking at the stats of both guys, Monk has the decided edge. He averaged just under 20 points per game compared to only 12 for Isaac. But if you look more closely, there are some other reasons why Monk is the better offensive prospect.
For one, Monk is one of the best players in this draft with the ball in his hand and he can create his own shot. He played in one of the best offenses in the country under John Calipari. He showed the ability to score, even when teammate De’Aaron Fox was out. He can get shots off with tight defense on him and he has the ball handling skills off the dribble to create looks. Isaac has decent handles and a solid shot, but is more of a all around talent than a scorer.
Monk was also used more on offense and has been in more scoring opportunities than Isaac. Monk’s usage percentage last season was 28.1% of possessions, his assist percentage with the ball was an impressive 13.5% and his assists to turnover ratio was a positive 1.18. Isaac’s usage percentage was 21.7%, he assisted on only 7.3% of touches and his assist to turnover ratio was .66.
Isaac was not featured nearly as often enough to be the same level scoring option as Monk at Kentucky. Monk has a natural scoring ability with his deadly shot and cuts to the rim. Isaac seems better suited to not being a top option scorer, for now anyway.
As effective as Monk is on offense, he is thoroughly beat in the defensive department compared to Isaac. Shooting guards priority, usually, should be to focus on scoring and have the shooting touch of the starting lineup so it’s not a huge knock on Monk that his defensive is not great right now. Going forward though in the NBA, his defense must improve to remain a starting guard. Here is why Isaac is dominant on defense compared to Monk.
For one, Isaac has the intangibles and ability to be great. He was a superb shot blocker and defensive rebounder because his size, length and speed allowed him to beat his opponents to loose balls and blocked shots.
On the floor, Isaac had an 8.9% steal + block percentage, his defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) was a pa positive 6.1 and his defensive rating vs. opponents was 6.5. Monk’s steal + block percentage was a low 2.9%, his DBPM was only 0.8 and his defensive rating vs opponents was -4.9.
If a team is drafting for defensive presence on their wings or even down low, Jonathan Isaac is one of the most stifling and dominant forces on defense.
Both players are 19 so age is not a factor here and they did not sustain major injuries in their year in college.
This is the hardest category to compare these two dominant forces. The first thing to consider is it may all depend which franchise drafts each player. Some franchises are building in the right direction right now and have a bright future with good players to build around and a solid front office and coaching staff (Philadelphia, Boston, LAL). They could get drafted by a team with an unsure future focus, questionable players to go forward with or uneasy coaching staffs or a front office (New York, Sacramento, Orlando).
Malik Monk can shoot the lights out so if he goes to a shooting hungry team, he could make all the difference and be a very effective player. Isaac is somewhat more complicated because he is not great at just one thing but is very good at many other things.
I think right now, the biggest things these two young men can do to ensure their NBA futures are great and off to the right foot is to be surrounded by a front office, coaching staff and group of players that will help them along the way and learn. It is pointless to argue which of these two guys is going to have the better potential until they are on a team.