Charlotte Hornets: Where do we go from here with Malik Monk?

Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets, Malik Monk
Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Shooting Guard Route

If we are assuming Borrego continues to use Monk as a shooting guard, then the most impactful step Malik could take is with his shooting.

Coming out of Kentucky, Monk had all kinds of hype as a shooter. This graph shows how Monk’s Kentucky shooting numbers stacked up favorably against the college statistics of some of the best shooters in the league today.

Renowned draft writer Cole Zwicker published an article asking if Monk was the best off-ball shooting prospect in years. Suns assistant GM Pat Connelly had this to say after Monk’s workout with the Suns prior to the 2017 NBA draft: “He had one of the best shooting performances we’ve seen from deep with a workout over the past few years,”

So why hasn’t Monk’s shooting translated for the Charlotte Hornets?

As a movement shooter, perhaps he was overrated all along; according to synergy, Monk scored only 1.00 PPP on shots coming off screens in College, and this season he scored 0.91 PPP off screens, which was actually an increase from 0.85 PPP last season.

Mechanics-wise, Monk’s footwork is problematic shooting off right-left movement; he alternates between a hop and a 1-2 step, and it sometimes even results in abbreviated 1-2 steps as seen in these clips; which are suboptimal for power and balance. Furthermore, notice his poor shoulder swivel is in many of these.

Going right off movement, Monk’s form is slightly better, with a consistent 1-2 step and good shoulder swivel.

However, the arc is fairly flat; out of all of the great shooters in the league, only Landry Shamet has a jumper with arc comparably flat to Monk throughout the first half of last season. It seems that since entering the league, Malik Monk has tried to quicken the speed of his jumper, and it’s going through a pubescent stage where a once beautiful, high-arcing jumper has added some wrinkles and warts to it; Monk had some uninspiring makes, and some ugly misses this past season.

That being said, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In general, when Monk had time to fire on jumpers this season, his success rate was better(hitting 37.8% on wide-open jumpers). Most importantly, as the season went on, the arc on Monk’s jumper returned, which helped Monk hit 35% of his 3s on 4.6 attempts in his last 11 games, not great, but not bad.

The message here is clear. If Monk wants to make the all-star team eventually, as a shooting guard, he needs to lock himself in the gym and remove the funk from his jumper. I want him practicing 1000 movement 3s a day, and posting videos on twitter like Deni Avdija and BJ Boston are doing(only kidding)…regardless, being a more dangerous shooting threat would naturally open up more closeouts for Monk to attack, and we know how good he is in those situations.

That being said, I don’t view Malik’s lack of improvement with the jumper as a red flag towards his long term shooting projection. Monk wasn’t prioritizing perfecting his jumper these last two off-seasons; instead, he shrewdly worked on more pressing issues such as building physical strength and improving basketball IQ, issues that Borrego and Kupchak pointed out at the conclusion of the 2018/19 season. This resulted in Malik adding 20 pounds to his frame prior to the 2019/2020 season, which was manifested in his improved 2PT FG%.

Now that Malik’s off-ball defense has improved by leaps and bounds, and his overall basketball IQ is quite high, you’d think Malik’s plans for the coming off-season naturally involve many hours in the gym, shooting a lot of jumpers.

Next. The point guard route. dark