Malik Newman had quite a bumpy journey throughout his collegiate career. He was a highly touted high school prospect out of Jackson, Mississippi in the Class of 2015. Newman then was swayed by coach Ben Howland, in addition to his dad going there in the 90’s, and committed to Mississippi State. This was a big-time mistake for Newman to start his college career.
Newman is a 6’3” combo guard with a 6’6”. In his freshman campaign with the Bulldogs, he averaged 11.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game shooting 39.1% from the field and 37.9% from three. In the archaic Ben Howland system, he failed to find his way. He never was comfortable in his role as only freshman. He had the talent, but it was never on display in Starkville.
After sitting out a year after his transfer, the pressure on him as an elite player subsided tremendously at Kansas. He was a better fit with the Jayhawks team where he was not expected to lead the team. This season, Newman averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds a game per game shooting 46.3% from the field and 41.5% from three.
With the additional season under his belt, his stock vaulted while playing more minutes with his shooting percentages increasing as well. His true shooting percentage rose from 52.1% to 60.6%. He showed off why ESPN ranked him #10 coming out of high school. If he continues this success and builds off of the progression from this season, he could be a steal in the second round of this draft.
Malik Newman knows how to put the ball in the basket. He is a born scorer and that is the biggest positive of his game. His pure athleticism will fit nicely on any NBA second unit next season. I believe Newman will be a consistent contributor at some level in the NBA. He may not develop into an all-star, but he knows how to get buckets which will keep him on rosters. If this progression can continue after a tumultuous career in college, he will be a great pick for a team in the second round.
The one thing that has always jumped off the page with Malik Newman is that he is a born scorer. He can create his own shot and has go to moves which he showcased both in Starkville and Lawrence. As noted earlier, his field goal percentage increased in his second season which became a deadly weapon. He fit into the spot up shooting role where he did not have to have the main ball handling duties.
This scoring ability was on display on one of the biggest stages. In Kansas’s Elite Eight game against Duke, Newman scored 32 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in an overtime thriller against Duke. Many people called it the best game of the tournament.
This highlight reel showed Newman hitting his peak game. He was feeling it from everywhere no matter on drives to the hoop or scoring from beyond the arc. It was the game he needed which highlighted his strengths before the NBA Draft process got started.
Scouts have been noting the athleticism that attributes into talent at the next level, and they think he possesses this talent. As on display with this game and others throughout the season, Newman turned his raw athleticism into the ability to score from anywhere. He can take the ball when needed and attack the rim at will. His ball handling is sound enough for defenders to fear him attacking when driving around screens.
His quality shooting alone should be enough to entice teams to be interested in his services at the biggest stage.
The biggest negative for Malik Newman is how he will stack up against bigger guards in the NBA. His measurables were not exactly what the teams wanted to see when they were tested. It may not prove to be a crucial factor, but a wingspan at 6’6” as a 2 guard will not transition well into guarding NBA players.
However, a solution could be transitioning himself into a pure point guard. This will limit his talents on the offensive end as we saw between the years at Mississippi State and Kansas. The balance between pure point guard and the 2-guard is something Newman will have to get a hold on to succeed. It may still be the concern for him as teams are trying to find the gem in the rough in the second round.
That goes well into the conversation about his work ethic, which had always been a question mark with him at Mississippi State. Newman will have to figure out which type of player he wants to be and that means he will have to put in the work to get there.
Does he want to be a score first 2-guard that scraps defense for more buckets or can he adjust to more pure ball handling role being able to guard either 1s or 2s? Even as the switches will still come, it fits his game better matched up against smaller point guards.
Fit With The Grizzlies
Are you telling me that Chris Wallace can draft a highly touted high school player who was a 2015 McDonald’s All-American AND he went to Kansas?!?! Sign him up.
Malik Newman came into Memphis for a workout earlier this month and after the interviews you could tell Wallace was very intrigued. He would be a nice fit for Memphis as someone who could take the score-off-the-bench role in the second unit, but in my opinion, it would be a reach at 32. This of course is all dependent on the talent left available.
Newman can provide that burst of scoring that many teams would love to have on their bench compared to a player who results to nothing after a year and fizzles out. I project Newman as being a long term bench guy in the NBA. However, this is believing in his work ethic to relieve the worries people have about his defense and his measurables. Getting past those weaknesses will be the key for Malik Newman to have a prolonged NBA career.