Charlotte Hornets: Malik Monk closed out his rookie season on a high note

Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Malik Monk had an up and down first year in the NBA but he ended his rookie campaign on a high note for the Charlotte Hornets.

There was a lot of hope and hype surrounding Malik Monk when the Charlotte Hornets‘ selected him 11th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. It’s clear that Steve Clifford and the Kentucky product didn’t mesh well at first but the way Monk finished the 2017-18 season should offer plenty of optimism going forward.

Slow Start

After missing the entire summer league, Monk was already at a disadvantage. Dealing with an ankle injury and not having time to work with his new team resulted in a slow start for Malik. He had a number of poor shooting games early in the year and was still trying to adjust to the style and speed of the NBA.

It didn’t help that he was playing out of position at point guard which he hadn’t done since high school. Once Michael Carter-Williams returned from injury in November, Monk saw limited minutes. Malik didn’t score in double-figures from November 8th to March 8th. He was in the doghouse for four months. He was even sent down to the G-League for one game where he dropped 25 points.

More from Swarm and Sting

Not only did he struggles with his shot selection as he was one of the worst rookie’s in terms of field goal percentage but he also had glaring issues on defense and with his passing. It took time for the 20-year old to get comfortable but once he did, he was able to show why he was considered one of the best players in his draft class.


Over the last month of the season (from March 8th to April 10th), Monk averaged 12.3 points per game and 2.4 assists while shooting 40.9% from the field. He scored 10+ points in 11 of his final 17 games.

Taking an even closer look at the end of the year, he scored at least 16 points in his final six games and averaged 19.8 PPG and 3.8 APG. Malik upped his field goal percentage to 46.7% and his three-point shooting mark to 40% as well. Monk showcased the scoring ability that made him such a highly touted prospect.

He scored 20+ in three games and a career-high 26 points against the Orlando Magic. He also tied a career-high with eight assists in that outing.

His play earned him praise from Steve Clifford. In the head coach’s exit interview, he said that Malik’s play was “night and day” compared to the start of the season. In reality, his play was completely different. Aside from a couple flashes early in the year, Monk looked lost but at the end of the season, he was clearly more comfortable.

The 6’3 guard touched on his development during his exit interview by saying that “the game slowed down” as the season went on. He also mentioned that he learned a lot from Kemba Walker including how to use his body in pick and roll situations. (Twitter/ @SteveReedAP)

Looking Ahead

Although Malik fell short of his Rookie of the Year goal, he did have a positive end to the regular season. He was one of the lone bright spots for Charlotte at the end of a forgettable year. Monk’s growth shouldn’t be overlooked as his success is crucial to the Hornets’ future. His end of the season should give him confidence entering the offseason and going into next year.

This will be a big summer for Monk as he will need to get stronger and work on his game. Based on his close to the season, it’s safe to say that Malik Monk turned a corner.

Next: Top-10 performances from the 2017-18 season

He will likely have a bigger role in the Charlotte Hornets’ rotation next year. Malik could either be the team’s sixth man and provide a scoring punch off of the bench. Don’t forget that LeBron James even said that Monk “has the ability to catch fire very fast” and that he would “be a very good pro.” We’ll see if he can take that next step in the 2018-19 season.