Charlotte Hornets: Analyzing Malik Monk’s potential All-Star quality offense

Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets, Malik Monk
Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Off-ball offense

One of Monk’s clearest strengths is attacking closeouts. His combination of athleticism, footwork, deceleration ability is manifested in a variety of layups through contact, ferocious dunks, and floaters.

Furthermore, Monk can leverage his threat attacking the basket to create for others, although inconsistency finding open shooters is a weakness of his that will be discussed later in this piece.

Potentially relevant down the road is that deceleration ability; it’s a skill that allows star scorers like Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Luka Doncic to twist defenders into knots. It may be premature to assume Monk will ever reach that level of impact as a primary ballhandler, especially whilst his ballhandling is slightly problematic, but its an interesting wrinkle that hammers home how high Monk’s ceiling could be.

Something else to emphasize is Malik’s finishing at the basket. Some of the above plays really manifest Malik’s combination of fluidity, touch, and his (newfound) physical strength. His overall 2PT FG% of .542 ranks 40th in the league, ahead of names like Derrick Rose, Jaren Jackson Jr, Demar Derozan, Nikola Vucevic, Joel Embiid, Jrue Holiday; certainly an impressive number for a 6’2” guard, and its a number that would be further improved if Malik gained another 5-10 pounds and didn’t miss these kinds of looks.

Teammates and foes alike acknowledge the impact Malik has when he’s attacking the basket; Rod Boone quoted Khris Middleton after Monk’s breakout 31 point game in Paris:

"“He’s athletic, he plays fast and he’s still a young player,” Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton said. “You can see he has the confidence to be great in this league. So hopefully he continues to do it.”"

These shot-charts highlight Monk’s maturation over his first three years; he is realizing his niche in this uber-talented league, and starting to take advantage of that.

And shooting higher than 30.7% on catch and shoot 3 point jumpers would go a long way to maximizing this particular skill of Malik’s, which leads onto the most puzzling aspect of Monk’s play; what has happened to his shooting?

There are mechanical issues that will be touched in part IV, but also on a team level: the Hornets played with the slowest pace in the league; 30th out of 30 on a team with Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, Malik Monk, Cody Zeller.

Many Hornets possessions began with Devonte Graham and Terry Rozier sauntering up the court, barely avoiding backcourt violations. Coupled with the Hornets’ overall lack of offensive potency and Terry Rozier’s inability to break down opposing defenses, and you get Malik shooting 44 shot-clock influenced 3s, of which he made only 7.  Some are shown in this clip:

Disregarding all rushed 3 point shots(which is slightly disingenuous) would put Malik’s 3PT% at 32%, not fantastic, but not as disastrous as the 28% number seems.

Continuing on, another promising aspect of Monk’s play is his cutting. Malik is starting to master his timing, allowing him to sneak behind defenses into his teammates’ field of vision for easy baskets.

Owing to his athleticism, he’s a constant backdoor threat, which has resulted in some thunderous alley-oop finishes. Some of his best cuts have come from opponents overplaying a handoff/pindown; if Malik’s shooting was to reach the level where he was a legitimate threat to hit jumpers off pin downs, Malik’s prowess as a cutter would be further optimized.

As one can see, especially if Monk becomes a good shooter(he shot 35% of his 4.6 3PAs in his last 11 games), his off-ball offensive threat would be amplified.