Southeast Notes: Hawks, Wizards, Monk, Gordon

The Trae Young-led Hawks enjoyed an exciting 2018/19 season, and their returning players were confronted with big developmental questions, according to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner. Kirschner revisits an earlier column from before the Hawks’ season kicked off with answers to those questions.

Young’s All-Star performance this season has proved that he has the goods on offense, but many of his teammates have underwhelmed thus far this year as the Hawks have stumbled to a 15-41 record heading into the All-Star break.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards are guardedly optimistic about their season heading into the All-Star break, as Candace Buckner of the Washington Post reports. “We’re in a good spot,” Washington star Bradley Beal said. “I wish we could have had a few more before the break. I think we lost two that I felt we could’ve won, but for the most part we’re in a good position.”
  • Third-year Hornets shooting guard Malik Monk concedes he may not have been ready for the NBA when he was drafted at age 19, per a conversation with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I went to Kentucky, and I still wasn’t ready for the NBA,” Monk told Bonnell. “Some days you’re tired. Or your body hurts. Or you have a headache. And nobody wants to hear that. You’ve got to fight through that. That’s what I’ve really learned — that you’ve got to fight.”
  • Magic forward and two-time Slam Dunk also-ran Aaron Gordon aspires to win his first Slam Dunk Contest this All-Star weekend in Chicago, according to Josh Cohen of“It would be incredible,” Gordon said. “It would be one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
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14 thoughts on “Southeast Notes: Hawks, Wizards, Monk, Gordon

  1. hiflew

    “I went to Kentucky, and I still wasn’t ready for the NBA,” Monk told Bonnell. “Some days you’re tired. Or your body hurts. Or you have a headache. And nobody wants to hear that. You’ve got to fight through that. That’s what I’ve really learned — that you’ve got to fight.”

    I think every high school senior/college freshman/player going overseas should be required to talk with a player like Malik Monk before deciding to enter the draft. Monk was considered a no doubt one-and-done guy all throughout his year at UK and now he is realizing that he wasn’t ready.

    Everybody always wants to make their money, but they don’t think of the downside. First is the amount of work involved. In college, these guys are good enough to skate by on their talent alone when playing against mostly players that are going into a non-athletic career. But in the NBA (and G League), these guys are competing with men trying to earn money to feed their families. And those men have just about talent as they do.

    Second is the fact that once these guys leave college, they are no longer the big man on campus. The year Malik Monk was at Kentucky, he was one of the most well known faces in Lexington, Kentucky and surrounding areas. Everybody loved him. Now, he is just a guy on the bench for a struggling NBA team. Players just assume the stardom that they had in college and to a lesser extent in high school is just automatically going to follow them into the pros. But it doesn’t in most cases. Sure the LeBrons and the Durant of the world become world-famous, but most of the rest are just basically cogs in the machine. Personally, I would rather remain a star on a college campus and get the money later. The money will still be there in most cases, but the time that you are on the top of the heap doesn’t last long.

    Sorry for the lengthy post, but I really care about this subject and I just needed to vent a little as well.

    • MrWood

      What you’re saying is very true. The problem is you have to leave. Monk will have made over $10.3m these first 3 years. He’s scheduled to earn $23m total over his 5 year rookie contract. Injuries happen. NBA gms cover youth, Toppin at Dayton perfect example, he’s getting knocked hard bc he’s 21. The whole thing is a disaster in terms of making sure 19, 18 and shortly 17 year old teenagers are ready but back to original view, you gotta leave when you are assured 20-27m over 5 years and get it all regardless if you flop in pros.

      • hiflew

        No you don’t HAVE to leave. You are forgetting that the money would still be there if he didn’t come out immediately. And perhaps had he filled out a little more, he could have gotten picked even higher and made more money. If I am not mistaken, this would have been Monk’s senior year at UK and this year’s draft is considerably weaker overall than the year he came out. Toppin, who you mentioned, is still projected to be drafted from 6-11. Monk was drafted 11. So I don’t see how his status is hurt. Buddy Hield stayed in school and was picked 6 or 7.

        It is very short-sighted to think that you can’t outdo an original rookie deal if you continue to improve your game. To me, your idea shows a complete lack of confidence in yourself. Plus, your point is that he is scheduled to earn $23MM, but not guaranteed. What Monk has shown thus far, there is no guarantee at all that Charlotte picks up his final option year.

        • MrWood

          I’m not suggesting you can’t improve your game and make more then $23m over 5 but there is a very high probability you won’t and that’s why you must get paid when you can.

          Look no further then Anthony Bennett. He’s 26 out of basketball and will never get back or the perfect example, Shaun Livingston. Sure he finished strong but year #3 destroys knee, gets waived, multiple times over and had to work his ass off to get back. You can’t risk that if you’re a projected lottery pick.

          • hiflew

            But you are assuming that Shaun Livingston would still destroy his knee in a completely different situation. That’s not true. If he went to school instead of the pros, he would have played half as many games in the 2 years before his knee surgery. There could have been enough time for his knee to build up strength and not even have that injury.

            The amount of wear and tear on 19 year old bodies in college is nowhere near the amount of wear and tear on 19 year old bodies in the NBA. Bodies that young are still physically developing. They are not prepared to compete with 28 year old bodies that are in their prime. If you are baking a cake, you can take it out of the oven early and it will be edible and you might even love it, but it likely would be a lot better if you left it in the oven until it was done.

    • Jason Lancaster

      I like a lot of what you’ve said here, but the money isn’t always their. Teams usually lose interest in guys as they age, there’s another group of young players joining the NCAA every year that can take your shine, and injuries are always a concern.

      If you can make the money, the smart move is to take the money.

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      Here’s the issue with your argument- if you get your money, there is no downside. You’re paid, and we’re talking life changing money. I mean I understand you’re saying by staying in school, maybe they could improve their game, and turn into bigger stars. It’s surely possible, and a reasonable argument. It’s the equivalent to sitting at a poker table though, and winning a hand. How hard do you push? You could win more, or gamble and come away with nothing. A kid could rip up his knee in school, comeback, and just not show the same. He could flatout have a down year.

  2. Skip, Tampa

    If a player is slated for a 1st round pick or even a 40 plus it’s almost a no brainier, got to go.
    Some are just more mentally and physically ready to grind than others.
    One knee injury by staying and they may never make it to the NBA.
    Family issues also come into play for many players.
    Still not a big fan of HS to the NBA. Understand it, just only a very small number of players should ever be considered remotely ready.
    How many top 10 drafted players completely flame out ??? Granted they get life time Bank for it.

    • hiflew

      A knee injury for a big time prospect is not going to stop them from making the NBA. Look at Nerlens Noel. He completely tore his ACL in college and was still picked #6 overall. Joel Embiid was still picked #3 and given a max extension despite not being able to play a full season for like 6 years. Ben Simmons was picked #1 overall without being able to play his rookie year. Injuries do not stop NBA teams from drafting potential.

      Sure you COULD have a career ending injury, but you also could have a career ending injury in 8th grade. Should the heavily scouted 7th graders apply for the draft, just in case? At some point, you just have to accept that it’s not destined to work out for everyone.

  3. Man, if the offer is there you go for it. Why risk a career-ending injury while playing for nothing and making your college millions? Monk didn’t force anyone to draft him and like others have said, teams often draft based on potential and accept a player isn’t quite there. No one has mentioned the team he was drafted to being in a perpetual state of mess.

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