Fixated in a small role for his rookie season, Malik Monk struggled when he was on the floor. However, with new coaching changes as well as a role expansion, Monk should be one of the Hornets’ main rotation players this year.
Under former head coach Steve Clifford, Monk averaged only 13 minutes per game. But this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, the assumption from some national media members that Monk is already a bust is simply wrong and makes Hornets fans cringe.
Now in his second season and teased as the sixth man for the Charlotte Hornets in the 2018-19 season, Monk has a chance to turn things around. Monk brings shooting, passing, and a whole lot of athleticism to any lineup he’s a part of. This preseason, Monk is averaging 11 points, six assists, and one rebound. Not only has he been a more consistent shooter, but Monk has shown some flashes of solid defense, as well.
Yes - Monk did have a disappointing rookie campaign. In fact, it’s hard for any Hornets fan to deny that. However, it’s also nearly impossible to deny the immense amount of potential still oozing from Monk (and his dunks).
For many promising examples, simply watch this video:
The first minute alone is all drawn from one game against the Milwaukee Bucks. And you know what - let’s talk about that game. In fact, this was one of the few times Clifford played Monk more than 20 minutes in a single game (this only happened 16 times, for what it’s worth).
In that game, Monk led the Hornets in scoring with 25 points. He also scored 16 straight points in the fourth quarter, quite possibly winning the game for the Hornets (the final score was 126-121).
Anyways, if I haven’t sold you on Monk’s potential and the player he could possibly become in the future (aka the NBA’s MVP in 2022, you heard it here first), then I’m not sure you’re human.
Having Monk and signee Tony Parker paired in the back court coming off the bench could also benefit Monk - as could playing shooting guard like he did at Kentucky. Being the secondary ball-handler rather than the first could benefit Monk by allowing him to focus on what he’s best at. I mean, he’s first and foremost a shooter and we’d be crazy to ignore that.
Playing Monk at the one isn’t out of the question, though. Charlotte does have Devonte’ Graham and the aforementioned Tony Parker backing up Kemba Walker, but should things turn south (in terms of injuries), Monk could provide the vision and passing needed to run an offense efficiently.
Monk, however, won’t just be given minutes. He will be competing with Miles Bridges, Jeremy Lamb, Dwayne Bacon, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for minutes on the wings. However, he is expected to take a significant jump in his game. And while this won’t be easy, it seems James Borrego is willing to give Monk the opportunities needed to succeed at his highest level - and that is certainly something to be excited about.