Charlotte Hornets: Is Malik Monk a jumper away from being an All-Star?

Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets, Malik Monk
Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Malik Monk’s rookie season

As it turned out, Malik’s unwavering confidence in his own ability wasn’t manifested on the court in his rookie season. Malik picked up an ankle injury that prevented him from appearing in Summer League, which lingered deep into September.

Whilst Hornets fans did get glimpses at Malik’s shotmaking potential, his performances against Denver, New York, and especially Milwaukee, Malik’s first month as an NBA player concluded with the humble per-game stat-line of 8.8/1.9/1.9 on .35/.33/.80 splits.

Monk’s good games only differed from subpar games by the frequency of tough pull-ups falling into the basket, with 56.1% of Malik’s shots over his rookie season being pull-up jumpers(for the record, Steph Curry’s unanimous MVP exploits in the 2015-16 season only involved 44% of his FGA being pull-up jumpers.) It was unsustainable basketball, and Clifford’s eventual decision to give Monk DNP-CD’s in favor of Jeremy Lamb and Michael Carter Williams was reasonable.

However, Clifford’s attempts to salvage a poor start by the Hornets were fruitless, as the Hornets slumped to 23-31 by the All-Star Break. Within this timeframe, Malik Monk even got sent to the G League, where he jacked up 27 shots to score 25 points. Clifford maintained Malik wasn’t in the doghouse, but it took a season-ending labral tear by Michael Carter Williams for Malik to finally get the chance to spread his wings.

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Ultimately, the 2017/18 Hornets season was the second consecutive season where the Hornets finished with a 36-46 record; a 10th place finish in the East, and for a nice kick in the pants, a positive point differential. The basketball representation of mediocrity.

The only light at the end of this poorly lit tunnel of a season was Malik’s play, particularly the last six games of the season. Like a Machoke evolving into Machamp, Malik discarded the proverbial belt to average  20 points over these last six games, flashing improved poise in the pick and roll, and some improved shot selection and shotmaking consistency.

However, even this was overshadowed, as soon after Donovan Mitchell had his star-making performances as he, Snyder, and the Jazz caused a boilover in the Western Conference playoffs beating the OKC Thunder 4-1. Since that day, the duality of Monk and Mitchell’s progress has been a constant talking point amongst Hornets fans, especially beat writer Rick Bonnell.

Ultimately, Monk’s rookie season was best summed up by Zach Lowe:

Exciting, but mostly a rookie season to forget; however, as Monk finished the season strongly, there was a legitimate buzz about the Arkansan entering his sophomore season.