Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Malik Monk (Kentucky) shows off the inside of his suit jacket as he is introduced as the number eleven overall pick to the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Here’s why the Charlotte Hornets’ selection of Malik Monk out of Kentucky in the 2017 NBA Draft was an excellent one.
The Charlotte Hornets suffered a down year in 2016-17, which meant that they once again found themselves picking in the lottery — something that has not been kind to the franchise in the past.
Luckily for the loyal Hornets fans, things played out a lot better than expected, as Malik Monk, who was arguably the best shooter in the class, fell right into their lap at the 11th selection. Monk gets underrated purely because he did not show a lot of combo guard tendencies in College, but too many people forget that coaches can unlock that side of the game when the player reaches the NBA.
My pro comparison for Monk is C.J. McCollum, as both are probably going to be below-average defenders, but can score 20 points very quickly and can develop the playmaking side of their game.
For the Hornets the pick was a home run pick, as they are a team that was desperate for a long-term playmaker to go next to Kemba Walker and the underrated Nicolas Batum. Monk is someone who can contribute from day one.
Here are five reasons why Monk was an excellent pick by the Charlotte Hornets, and why he can help get this franchise back on the right track.
Apr 2, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reacts to a call in action against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
5. He’s a perfect fit in Steve Clifford’s Offense
Whenever people mention the best coaches in the NBA, very few mention Steve Clifford, and this is completely wrong. Clifford is a two-way coach who has designed a great offense, and Monk can come in and be a dominant player from day one. Charlotte’s offense uses the least isolation plays, purely because something is always happening off the ball, and Clifford preaches a team-first brand of basketball.
Essentially, Monk can come in from day one and contribute, because Clifford’s offense is already ready-made, and he is very creative with how he gets his shooters open. Monk will need time to develop, but Clifford won’t need to re-design his offense, because Monk isn’t someone who necessarily needs to have the ball in his hands.
Charlotte’s record was nowhere near a fair reflection of how it played, as it ranked well in offensive and defensive efficiency, but did not have enough dynamism from its outside shooters. Monk changes this from day one.
Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Malik Monk (Kentucky) is introduced as the number eleven overall pick to the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Monk is unlikely to be a day one starter as the Hornets will probably make him work toward that role, but he has a legitimate chance at winning Sixth man of the Year as such a high-powered player who will get a variety of looks in the Hornets’ offense.
The starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller had a net rating of +6.0, which was one of the highest among NBA starting lineups, so it is clear that the bench is what stopped the Hornets from being a playoff team.
With Zeller dropping to the bench behind Dwight Howard and Malik Monk arriving, the Hornets bench could go from being mediocre, to being among the best in the NBA.
Mar 22, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
3. He is a long-term fit next to Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and he doesn’t get enough credit from casual viewers. He can score in a variety of ways, and he is absolutely a franchise player. The Hornets’ problem to date, is that they have not been able to find the long-term young player to go next to him, as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Frank Kaminsky have yet to truly pan out.
Monk at minimum is going to be a very good scorer, and this makes him a great fit next to Kemba Walker, who has been terrorizing NBA backcourts for the last two years after being freed from the infamous “Al-Fense” of the 2014-15 season.
Malik Monk was one of the most explosive jump shooters in the country last season. Great spot up shooter, but also dangerous on the move. pic.twitter.com/LjIKCvSLxW
Even if Monk is going to be a below-average defender, the Hornets will still have one of the most diverse backcourts in basketball, as Monk has shown that he can score in a variety of ways, and he could finally be the long-term fit next to the excellent Kemba Walker.
Dec 23, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan yells at an official in the second half against the Chicago Bulls at Spectrum Center. The Hornets defeated the Bulls 103-91. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
2. He helps them with cap trouble
The Hornets are a team who are pretty hard-pressed against the cap, and Monk being on a rookie contract helps them out for a while as he is a player who will not be earning as much as shooters that decide to hit the open market.
The Hornets do not have any big contracts coming off the books until 2019, and unless they manage to make some more lopsided trades, then they will be hard-pressed against the cap, which means they can really only make minor moves.
In a way, any rookie pick helps a team with cap troubles, but the Hornets are in a rare situation in that they are a lottery team that has some of the toughest cap troubles in the league to navigate its way through. Having a deadly role player on a nice rookie contract can make Rich Cho’s life slightly easier.
Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Malik Monk (Kentucky) greets Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari as he is introduced as the number eleven overall pick to the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. He has a great attitude
The Hornets are a team that has built a really strong locker room over the past couple of seasons, and Monk is not someone who is going to come in and upset the apple cart.
The Charlotte Hornets are not that far away from getting home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference, so having someone who is ready to come in and win now, while also being a good teammate, is very important and positive.