Charlotte Hornets Position Battles: Nicolas Batum vs Malik Monk

Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Heading into training camp next month, the starting shooting guard spot seems to be wide open for the Charlotte Hornets, with Nicolas Batum and Malik Monk being the main competitors.

With the Charlotte Hornets seemingly entering rebuild mode starting with the 2019-20 season, many fans want the organization to go all-in on the youth and give major playing time to guys like Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon and Malik Monk.

While Bridges and Bacon are near locks to start for the Charlotte Hornets this upcoming season, Monk is far from a guarantee. He’s going to have to make a big impression during training camp if he hopes to beat out Charlotte’s highest paid player in Nicolas Batum for the starting spot.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at who should be starting for the Charlotte Hornets between Batum and Monk. Last week, my Co-Expert, Giovanni Spillman, took a look at the position battle brewing between Miles Bridges and Marvin Williams.

Monk had the opportunity to suit up for the Hornets’ Summer League squad last month, but opted not to. This decision caused a stir among fans, with many questioning his heart and work ethic. It would have been nice to see him there, since he hasn’t exactly proven much during his two years in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t put in any work.

He’s made getting stronger a priority this summer. Strength has been a hurdle for him early into his career, so putting on some extra muscle will go a long way for him. He needs to be able to take hits when going to the basket and finish through contact with his athletic ability.

Last season, Monk averaged 8.9 points in 17.2 minutes for the Charlotte Hornets. He was in-and-out of the rotation throughout the year and just couldn’t really get into any sort of rhythm. His scoring ability is clear, but he has to clean up other areas in his game like his defense and decision making.

I believe that Monk is in the position to have a potential breakout season for the Hornets, but his path to a starting spot isn’t exactly smooth. Nicolas Batum, an established veteran and a man who will make over $25 million this season, may have the upper hand on young Monk at the moment.

Last season, Batum started in 72 of the 75 games he played. Bacon became a starter late into last year and made a big impression. Batum’s role may have been limited down the stretch last season, but that shouldn’t continue going into 2019-20. Overall, Batum averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 2018-19.

During his career, Batum has always been an all-around threat, and the Hornets will need his veteran presence throughout the season. I expect him to handle the ball a lot more this season and he’ll also get more shots his way. He needs to be more aggressive in order to have a bounce back campaign.

When it’s all said in done, I think that Batum will open the season as the starting shooting guard. Monk, though, has a real chance to steal that starting spot as the season progresses. Starting both of them could even be an option if you move Batum to the small forward spot.

Next. Hornets 2019-2020: Who's In and Who's Out. dark

James Borrego will have many different options and combinations during the 2019-20 season. It’s likely going to be a tough season, but positional battles like this are always fun to track going into the new year. Let’s hope both Nicolas Batum and Malik Monk both bring their A game as we inch closer to training camp.