During the 2018 NBA Draft we heard the names of Devonte Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk called during the second round, but failed to hear a name that just had one of the best post seasons in Kansas Basketball history, Malik Newman.
I recently got asked if I thought that Malik’s decision to go pro early was a good one, so I decided that I would try to set the record straight. (Thanks Skippy)
You can go back and look at some of the stats from the 2017-2018 and see that Malik had several sub-par performances, including a 1 point and a 0 point game. Which that is exactly what I am sure many NBA scouts did, and to be honest if that’s all you looked at you might not have drafted him either.
What those same scouts didn’t do, is take a closer look at those stats when it counted. Take a look at the numbers Malik put up during the most crucial time of the year, especially in those games where his number one big man wasn’t available to play due to a knee injury. During the post season he improved nearly every stat possible including jumping from 12 PPG to a staggering 22.5 PPG. In my opinion, Malik single handedly got Kansas to the Final Four, not to mention scoring all of KU’s 13 points in overtime in the Elite Eight versus Duke with had a game high 31 points.
Now to answer the actual question if Malik Newman made the right choice by leaving school early. Yes, a definite, 100% no doubt, yes. He might have had just a mediocre regular season which I’m sure is why he didn’t get drafted, but after the post season that he had he had no other choice. He could have chose to come back and try to show scouts that he could sustain “Post Season Leek” throughout the whole season but the risk was too high. What if he came back and had another mediocre season, or what if he ended up getting injured and had to sit out most of the season which in turn would cause those same scouts to forget what he did in the 2018 post season. If either of those things happened there is a good chance that he would have been forgotten by the NBA all together.
Malik Newman went out on top. He went out as the Big 12 Tournament MVP, Midwest Region in the NCAA Tournament MVP and a proud member of a Final Four team. Myself, along with many others hated to see him go, but there is not one doubt in my mind that he made the right choice.
Even though he went undrafted he is now a member of the LA Lakers along with fellow Jayhawk, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.