Charlotte Hornets fans will be in for a treat this season thanks to their first-round pick, Malik Monk. Going into the 2017 NBA Draft, Monk was slated to be selected in the top eight picks, but the University of Kentucky shooting guard fell to the Hornets, who had the eleventh selection. Monk brings an electric style with limitless shooting range to a Hornets team that was stuck in the NBA doldrums last season.
One of Monk’s best attributes is his ability to heat up in a hurry. During these hot streaks, it seems as though no matter where Monk shoots from, the ball finds the bottom of the net. During a 47-point outing against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels last season, Monk shot over a double team multiple times, and his desperation heave would go in more often than not. When Monk gets hot, no defenders can stop him.
Monk also is familiar with the constant media coverage that comes with playing in the NBA. Him playing college basketball for Kentucky essentially means he played for a team that gets the press coverage and attention that professional teams get. Everything is scrutinized by the Kentucky faithful, who demand winning and entertaining basketball at all times. Monk became a fan favorite in Kentucky, something that is hard to do for a freshman at any program. Like most other Kentucky stars, Monk left college after only one year.
Monk’s best games at Kentucky coincided with some of their most important ones. The best game of Monk’s season was the 47-point game against North Carolina, who was ranked seventh in the nation at the time, one slot lower than where Kentucky was ranked. That 47-point game was the record single-game point total for a freshman at Kentucky. He also showed up in a regular season game against the University of South Carolina, who were unranked at the time, but were NCAA Tournament Cinderellas, reaching the Final Four as a seventh seeded team. Monk dropped 27 points on the Gamecocks in a game in which fellow guards De’Aaron Fox and Isaiah Briscoe combined for only six points.
One of the parts of Malik Monk’s game that will translate best into the NBA is his ability to play off a point guard and find his shot. At Kentucky, he and Fox formed a deadly backcourt duo, with Monk padding Fox’s assist stats with his ability to create shots out of hopeless situations. In Charlotte, Monk will be paired with one of the most creative point guards in the NBA, Kemba Walker. Kemba is fresh off a season where he averaged 23 points and 5.5 assists per game en route to his first All-Star appearance. Walker and Monk both have the ability to catch fire at any point in the game, especially within the final two minutes. With Malik Monk joining Kemba Walker in the Charlotte backcourt, expect the two of them to play off each other, with whoever possesses the hot hand taking and making impossible shots.
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