When will Malik Monk get on the floor for the Charlotte Hornets?

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

The start of the season has been buzzworthy for the Charlotte Hornets. There have already been highs and lows on the court, but Malik Monk is yet to be part of either. In his fourth season since being drafted in 2018, Monk hasn’t touched the floor through five games.

The lack of playing time for the Charlotte Hornets has to be frustrating for Malik Monk. He’s had an inconsistent career in the league to this point, but he’s shown enough flashes to tease fans.

Monk’s flashes were becoming a bit more frequently last season when he averaged 10.3 points and shot 43 percent from three. Almost a year ago, he poured in a career-high 31 points in a loss to Milwaukee. Then February came, and Monk looked more dialed in than ever. He averaged 16.7 points per game for the month while hitting 45 percent from the field. It was a welcomed sight from a player whose ability as a scorer and playmaker was always evident.

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Just as Monk seemed to be living up to his promise finally, he was suspended indefinitely for violating the NBA’s substance abuse policy. His suspension was lifted in June, but Charlotte’s season ended soon after the suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The offseason addition of Lamelo Ball created a bit of a log jam in the backcourt heading into this season, and so far, it seems Monk is the odd man out. He also tested positive for COVID-19 in early December, which limited him in the preseason and possibly set him behind schedule. Though he recovered quickly, Monk lost his grandmother to the virus around the same time.

Despite the obstacles Monk has been faced with just in the last year, coach James Borrego has spoken positively of his attitude and progress as a player.

While Monk is sitting, he watches Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, and LaMelo Ball get a leg up on the court. It’s a contract year for the former lottery pick, so a shortened season and limited available minutes aren’t doing him any favors.

Early last week, Monk expressed his frustrations in an interview with the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell.

“Super, super, super freaking frustrating. I finally became an NBA player, finally got the minutes I thought I deserved a couple of years ago. I was proving myself. And that’s all I really could ask for at that point,” Monk told the Charlotte Observer.

Monk will only turn 23 on Feb. 4. His age and talent make him an enticing player for a team that needs some energy on offense. He’s streaky, for sure, but when Monk gets hot, he can fill it up. His jumper has shown improvement, and he has plenty of bounce. Combine that with his above-average court vision and knack for setting up teammates, and Monk could certainly help a team.

But will that team be Charlotte?

Whether Charlotte plans to re-sign, trade, or let Monk walk, it’s time to get him in the game. The Hornets are already atop the league in assists per game (28.3), but they are in the bottom third in scoring.

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The play of Rozier and Gordon Hayward is encouraging for the starters, but a team without a true star needs all the help it can get, and Monk could provide that off the bench. Even though Cody Martin has done everything to earn his minutes with his high motor and defense, there’s room for Monk to provide a punch.

Playing Monk sooner than later has several benefits for a Charlotte team trying to figure out what it has. He adds to the cast of playmakers with scoring ability, extends the bench, and lightens the starters’ load. Maybe playing him in a small ball lineup with Bridges at the five — which Borrego has signaled will be a thing — can provide a spark. Imagine Monk, Ball, and Bridges on the floor together.

If the plan is to move on from Monk, why not show what value he has? Acquiring a mid-level asset has significant value in the right hands, and Charlotte increasing its chances of finding something later in a future draft is always a smart move.

No matter which way Charlotte is looking to go with Monk, he’s provided a lot of exciting play during his tenure with the Hornets. A player with his skills will always have a place in the NBA. We will wait and see where that takes him.

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