After one season at Kentucky, the Hornets selected Malik Monk with the 11th pick of the 2017 draft (two picks before Donovan Mitchell. Sorry.). His two seasons since then can be summed up in one word; inconsistency. While he has yet to live up to the expectations of a lottery pick going into their third season, he has had enough peaks amid the valleys for the Hornets to pick up the 2019 club option in his contract. If he doesn’t show some serious growth this season, when he’ll presumably be given a much larger role, the team might pass on the 2020 club option.
Monk has struggled to fit in since he got to Charlotte. He’s really never been given consistent minutes, and he was only given the opportunity to play in Greensboro for one game during his rookie year. In both of his seasons, he’s started the year with his minutes per game in the mid-20s, only to fall out of the rotation by January, and then have his minutes brought back up at the end of the year when it became apparent that the Hornets needed to get a look at their young talent. He’s averaged 15.5 minutes per game in his career, an unusually-low number for a lottery pick. Needless to say, it hasn’t been the easiest transition into the league.
Unfortunately, the NBA is not forgiving, and so far, almost every stat category for Monk has seen some sort of fluctuation between years one and two. In his rookie year, his +/- was an abysmal -10.9, but it went down to a not-too-bad -1.6 last year. His TS% has risen to 51.8. His 3P% dropped from 34.2 to 33. When he was given an opportunity to be featured in the offense at the end of 2018-19, he was a +11.1 in 19.4 minutes. It’s clear that the potential is there; it’s just that the playing time has been so sporadic, that it’s been difficult to consistently produce.
In the Hornets first year of a franchise tear-down, Monk should be a player that the front office has their eyes on the most. He’s had highlight-reel alley-oops and hot-shooting streaks, but he’s also been one of the team’s worst defenders, and the idea of him being a combo guard seems to be in the distant past. The best plan for Monk is probably to bring him off the bench in a sixth man-like role, and let him create his own offense. But, we’ll see what happens. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Malik Monk.