Hold up, did you read that right? Malik Monk of the Charlotte Hornets is going to be an all-star?
In recent times, the utterance of Malik Monk’s name is mostly met with indifference. After all, Monk is somewhat concealed in Charlotte; the Charlotte Hornets are a forgotten franchise, a connecting flight for most stars who pass through the place.
Furthermore, Malik seemingly hasn’t come close to attaining his own lofty expectations since being drafted to the Queen City. He barely cracked double-digit scoring per game in his third season, where most future stars take a big leap.
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Monk’s been bundled up in constant trade rumors to the New York Knicks, and in February, he even got suspended by the NBA’s anti-drug program. To most people, Monk is light years away from stardom, and just another addition to the long line of Hornets draft busts.
Well, Kentucky fans won’t ascribe to that idea, and for a good reason. The explosive guard was selected pick 11 in the stacked 2017 draft and had even been mocked to go as high as 3 to the Sixers in the month preceding the draft (and Philly’s infamous Fultz/Tatum trade).
Monk’s lofty reputation was earned on the back of a spectacular season for Kentucky, where he rained in 3s next to De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo on a stacked Wildcat squad (2.7 3PM per game for Kentucky at 39.7%).
His NBA comparisons ranged from Eric Gordon to sixth-man like Lou Williams, CJ McCollum, and Zach Lavine; the overall idea was clear. Malik was a sure-fire bucket-getter at the NBA level.
So, you can imagine the excitement that swept Hornets fans when the Kentucky star fell into Steve’s Cliffords (unwillingly) outstretched arms on the night of the 2017 NBA draft. A franchise who, perhaps undeservedly, had earned a reputation as a cautious drafting team with a perplexing preference for “white big men.”
A franchise who’d toiled through the early 2010s, finishing in the lottery year after year, with only Kemba and an assortment of role players to show for it. All that was seemingly in the rearview window.
In an interview immediately succeeding his selection to the Hornets, Malik declared his grandiose ambitions to be Rookie of the Year and represent the team at All-Star weekend. Later, Malik declared he would beat Michael Jordan in 1 on 1.
Finally, the Hornets had drafted a prospect with a realistic chance of becoming an all-star, and being the scoring threat needed to support Kemba. Monk’s selection coincided with a free agency period where the Hornets seemingly turned quartz into gold.
At the conclusion of the 2017 NBA Free Agency period, the Hornets were primed to ensure their absence from the playoffs would only be temporary…