In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 33 picks.
Today’s installment centers on Kansas guard Malik Newman.
Kansas guard Malik Newman was one of the earlier NBA Draft prospects to declare for the 2018 Draft and it is not hard to see why. The Jayhawk sophomore stands 6’3 and oozes athleticism while also showing some advanced decision making skills for his age.
At 21 years old, Newman has the perfect mix of youth and collegiate experience. After starting his career at Mississippi State, Newman transferred to Kansas where he posted a stellar season and an even better tournament run that seemingly made his choice easy.
Newman enjoys having the ball in his hands and is a professional at getting points when needed most as displayed in some of his clutch play this season. Overall for the 2017-18 season, Newman posted averages of 14.2 points per game along with five rebounds.
Newman’s draft stock has taken a significant hike upwards after his impressive work during the 2018 NCAA Tournament, where he averaged 21.6 points and was the hero in the Jayhawks win over Duke and Coach K in the Elite Eight.
Lets take a more in-depth look at the young guard’s strengths and weaknesses overall.
The first thing that jumps out at you about Newman’s game is his ability to push the ball in transition and play above the rim with his impressive athleticism.
Newman is not only one of the most gifted athletes in this class of prospects but is also great at keeping himself under control with the dribble making him a dynamic weapon in the pick-and-roll game. He is shifty and can change his speed on a dime.
His three-point ability is also a great weapon as he was a high volume shooter for Kansas at 5 attempts per game while still making 42 percent of his shots from deep. This dual threat capability makes him one of the most explosive scoring threats in the entire draft.
Newman is a decent playmaker, but clearly has a score first mentality. He is fairly creative though and is able to make the simple passes off drive-and-kicks.
Possibly Newman’s best ticket to the NBA is his great ability to play one-on-one defense. He always holds pressure on the ball handler and moves laterally very well which pairs with his wingspan of 6-5 to create nightmare matchups for smaller guards. He is very good at slipping over the top of screens and is able to make himself small in order to get to his man on the perimeter.
Clearly the biggest knock against Newman is his lack of assist totals per game (2.2 his freshman year and 2.1 his sophomore year) and overall ability to create at the point guard position.
Newman doesn’t commit a bevy of turnovers but for his lack of assists his turnovers per game of 1.5 last season aren’t that impressive.
While Newman has great size for defending opposing point guards, his lack of size in both bulk and wingspan keep him from being able to guard some shooting guards and forwards effectively.
Clearly, there are more strengths than weaknesses to Newman’s game which is what makes him a possible first round talent. The lack of size could be a concern if teams wanted to play Newman at the two because of his lack of passing skills, but Newman’s great athleticism helps to cover many holes he may have in his game. Overall, Newman is potentially a starter in the NBA eventually, but could provide an infusion on a team’s bench as of right now in the right situation.
For the Hawks to look at Newman would not be a surprise, as he would (very) likely be there at No. 19 pick of the first round and even possibly on the board for the No. 30 or No. 33 selections.