Malik Monk’s second season in the NBA might have somehow been more of a roller coaster than his first. The sophomore guard out of Kentucky was expected to see an increased role after he found himself in former Head Coach Steve Clifford’s dog house. The expectations for Monk this year were to become a spark plug on offense and a key contributor for the organization moving forward as a centerpiece and someone who could potentially be the second scoring option behind Kemba Walker.
Even before the season began, Monk found himself trying to overcome obstacles. He injured his hand in the Las Vegas Summer League and missed the majority of the teams summer workouts. This became a hindrance as he said he was looking forward to working with the new coaching staff and building rapport with them.
Based on the eye test alone, Monk was what he’s always been, a streaky scorer who is also extremely athletic. Monk can jump out of the building, he threw down some incredible dunks showcasing his underrated athleticism. He sparked runs by hitting momentum swinging shots, he made a couple acrobatic finishes. However, he also missed plenty of makeable shots. He once again had trouble defending better guards, which is why he was on the bench last season. Lastly, he turns the ball over in a variety of head scratching ways. This whole paragraph is the Malik Monk experience.
Monk was drafted 11th overall in the 2017 NBA draft as a scoring two guard out of Kentucky. His profile was a streaky scorer and athletic freak. He has lived up to that exactly in the NBA, but it’s not enough from a team who desperately needed players to step up consistently this season and for years to come. It has now been two years and he has yet to start a game in the NBA, more on this later.
Hornets fans have been clinging onto our young pieces as our last hopes for this team as currently constructed. Players such as Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon, and of course Monk. Monk is a massive piece to the future of this franchise. Even the front office began to hold out hope for him. As the trade deadline was approaching in the middle of February, the Hornets were in talks with the Memphis Grizzlies to acquire Marc Gasol. My source told me that Memphis wanted Monk as part of the trade and that is when talks stalled. The Grizzlies then traded Gasol to the Raptors who are now in the NBA Finals (congrats!).
Now let’s look at the stats. Starting off, Monk saw eight DNPs this year, being one of the many players to fall out of rotation towards the end of the season. I wouldn’t put this all on Monk as head coach James Borrego tested many lineups throughout this season, but Malik’s lack of consistent production and poor defense made it easy for him to be left on the bench. Next, in twelve games this season Malik Monk went 0-for shooting from the floor. Additionally, ten times this season he made just one shot. Furthermore, in FORTY-TWO games this season, Monk scored less than ten points. Finally, in half of his games he shot above 40%. This in total is where the problem lies. The revered scorer isn’t scoring, and if the scorer who’s one true attribute is scoring then why have him on the floor?
Going forward Monk’s role on the Charlotte Hornets will be tested. Second leading scorer Jeremy Lamb will most likely not be returning which means there is potentially an opening spot in the starting lineup. It is possible that Monk could secure it. However, there is also a chance that the team selects a better guard during June’s NBA draft who can fill that void. As it stands, though, I think that Monk’s best role is the sixth man. He could become a Lou Williams style of player which would be fantastic, but it also gives the coaching staff flexibility if they notice that he doesn’t have it going early and limit his minutes. That said, if Kemba Walker were to leave this offseason then let Monk play extensively. Who cares. Raise that trade value or uncover a consistent scorer; it’s a win-win!
Overall grade – D