Malik Monk

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Only two of 38 rookies surveyed say No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz will have class’s best career

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The 76ers drafted Ben Simmons No. 1 last year, believing he’d have the best career of anyone in his draft class. This year, Philadelphia traded up to draft Markelle Fultz No. 1 for the same reason.

Their fellow rookies – Simmons missed all of last season due to injury – aren’t nearly as enthused.

John Schuhmann of NBA.com conducted his annual rookie survey, polling 39 players who weren’t allowed to vote for themselves or college or NBA teammates. Thirty-eight responded to the best-career question:

Which rookie will have the best career?

1. Lonzo Ball, L.A. Lakers — 18.4%
Jayson Tatum, Boston — 18.4%

3. Josh Jackson, Phoenix — 10.5%
Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas — 10.5%

5. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento — 7.9%

6. Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia — 5.3%
Harry Giles, Sacramento — 5.3%
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia — 5.3%

Others receiving votes: Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn; John Collins, Atlanta; Jonathan Isaac, Orlando; Luke Kennard, Detroit; Kyle Kuzma, L.A. Lakers; Donovan Mitchell, Utah; Malik Monk, Charlotte

Simmons might not have come to mind to players at the rookie photo shoot, which was for the most recent draft class. And rookies have tended to pick someone other than the No. 1 pick for this question. Anthony Davis in 2012 was the last No. 1 pick to lead voting. Simmons tied for fourth at 6.7% last year – behind Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield. Even Karl-Anthony Towns landed behind Jahlil Okafor in 2015.

But so few votes for Fultz – the consensus top prospect in the draft – is fairly stunning.

Dennis Smith Jr. received the most votes for Rookie of the Year, but at just 25.7%. A large majority of rookies picked someone other than the Mavericks point guard.

Lonzo Ball (71.8% for best playmaker) was the only player to receive a majority of votes in a category. Luke Kennard (48.6% for best shooter) and Smith (43.6% for most athletic), who each tripled second place, came close.

LeBron James reemerged as rookies’ favorite player after a three-year run by Kevin Durant. Maybe that Warriors backlash if finally catching up to Durant?

Malik Monk: I thought Knicks would draft me

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Malik Monk to the Knicks was predicted and reported as a possibility. And when the No. 8 pick came up, the Kentucky guard was still on the board.

But New York – then still run by Phil Jackson – passed on Monk to draft Frank Ntilikina.

Monk, who wound up being drafted No. 11 by the Hornets, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

“Me, my agent, everybody in my agency, my family — we thought we were going to New York,” Monk told the Daily News last week after a posing for his Panini trading card. “It was here, my agent is here (based in New York), a great agent, everybody thought it was going to be here. Went to dinner with (Jackson), had a great workout, everything was positive.”

Naiveté and/or wishful thinking by someone who had never been through the draft process before? Perhaps.

But Monk’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, is quite experienced.

What did the Knicks do to make the Monk camp believe they’d draft him? Misleading in those situations can grate agents, though if Jackson did that, at least New York eradicated the problem.

Mavericks’ rookie Dennis Smith Jr. signs with Under Armour

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No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz signed on with Nike, as did No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum, plus De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball wore just about everything but vintage Ponys at Summer League as his dad pumps his Big Baller Brand line.

But Dennis Smith Jr., the Dallas Mavericks guard who was a standout at Summer League, will sign on with Under Armour, reports Nick DePaula for ESPN.

Dennis Smith Jr. checks all of those boxes, leading Under Armour to sign the Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard and No. 9 overall 2017 draft pick to a three-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal worth as much as $2 million per year with incentives, according to sources. The brand plans to incorporate him immediately as one of its key featured basketball players right out the gate.

“I am definitely excited to be a part of team Under Armour as I get ready to go into [training] camp for my rookie year,” Smith Jr. said. “Under Armour is an explosive brand in basketball right now, and I’m excited to join Stephen [Curry] and Seth [Curry] and the team at UA in making our mark together.”

Under Armour also signed No. 3 pick Josh Jackson.

Smith is a good signing by Under Armour. He will be in the running for Rookie of the Year, he is an athletic and aggressive point guard who will have the ball in his hands and be asked to create. He could be one of the stars of a deep rookie class.

Hornets rookie Malik Monk says he’d beat Michael Jordan one-on-one

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A couple years ago, a 52-year-old Michael Jordan said he could beat some current Hornets one-on-one. Then-rookie Frank Kaminsky even agreed.

What about a 54-year-old Jordan?

Charlotte’s latest first-rounder, Malik Monk, is more confident about his chances against the Hornets owner.

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

Monk showed his cocky side Saturday, repeating that he’d beat Hornets owner Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one. Jordan might have been the greatest player of his generation – maybe ever – but, as Monk noted, he is 54.

“He’s pretty old right now,” Monk said of Jordan. “I think I can get him.”

I’ve long been intrigued about how long a star could last in the NBA if he were willing to accept any role as his production declined. Vince Carter is providing some answers.

Jordan is obviously nowhere near his Bulls peak – or even his level with the Wizards. But Jordan was solid in Washington. He could be well worse than that and still better than some current NBA players.

I don’t think it’s impossible that Jordan could beat some current players one-on-one, given not everyone’s skill set caters to that format. Jordan’s obviously does. But so does Monk’s. His specialty is individual scoring.

If Monk can’t beat Jordan one-on-one, that’s a problem for everyone involved.

Lonzo Ball tops Rookie of the Year early betting odds

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If you are betting right now on next year’s NBA Rookie of the Year award, you are a die-hard fan of your team and their new addition. Or, you have a problem and need to seek help. Maybe both.

Either way, the people at the gambling site Bovada have posted the early betting odds for the ROY award for next season.

Lonzo Ball (Lakers) 5/2
Ben Simmons (76ers) 3/1
Markelle Fultz (76ers) 5/1
De”Aaron Fox (Kings) 7/1
Josh Jackson (Suns) 9/1
Jayson Tatum (Celtics) 9/1
Jonathan Isaac (Magic) 16/1
Malik Monk (Hornets) 16/1
Dennis Smith (Mavericks) 16/1
John Collins (Hawks) 20/1
Justin Jackson (Trail Blazers) 22/1
Lauri Markkanen (Bulls) 22/1

Yes, Ben Simmons is in the mix.

The two bets I like here, if I were a gambling man, are Jackson in Phoenix and Dennis Smith in Dallas. I doubt Smith wins it, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the draft Smith will start for them next year, which means he gets opportunities and can rack up assists feeding Dirk Nowitzki at the elbow for a year.

Jackson is going to be unleashed in an up-tempo Suns offense where he will be the defender they need on the wing, play with high energy, and get buckets in transition. Winning ROY is as much about fit and opportunity as talent, and Jackson has landed in a good spot.