What to Expect from Malik Monk for the Rest of the Season

With Michael Carter Williams likely out for the season here is what to expect, from Malik Monk now that he will be getting consistent minutes.

After a five-game winning streak gave some hope to the Hornets playoff chances, a four-game losing streak quickly eviscerated any chances of a playoff run. The Charlotte Hornets chances of making the playoffs are now at 3.6 percent according to ESPN. It would take a near miracle for the Hornets to make the playoffs. It is now more likely the Hornets go in the opposite direction and start playing more of their young guys. By default, it has already happened. In the loss at Toronto, Michael Carter-Williams hurt his shoulder and is likely out for the season. That means more minutes for rookie Malik Monk at the backup point guard. It started last night in the home loss to Philadelphia when Monk played sixteen minutes. Here is what I saw from Monk last night and what to expect from him the rest of the season. 

Last night

Monk played sixteen minutes and most mattered, some were garbage time minutes. Before the game, Steve Clifford said he would "simplify" things for Monk, and that was the case. He wanted Monk to attack out of the pick and roll and be aggressive. Monk got the message and came out firing like he has all season. Despite not playing much this season, Monk has not lost confidence. He was three for ten from the field, one for six from three with two rebounds, two assists and one turnover. The best part was he finished with a team-best +6 plus-minus for the game. Even though his shot wasn't falling, Monk was aggressive, made some nice passes and played passable defense. There were things to build on from this game. The next step is matching efficiency with his volume and confidence. 

Handling the Point

Monk has struggled as a point guard in limited minutes this season, but at the same time, he needs to learn to play the position due to his size. Clifford recently said that playing and defending point guards is key to his success, as he is not big enough to be a full time two guard. On offense, Monk needs to focus on getting to the rim more and stop settling for jumpers. Especially long two's. According to Cleaningtheglass.com, Monk is only shooting 24 percent on all midrange shots. On the brighter side, he is a better athlete than you think and he can finish at the rim. For the season he is shooting 62 percent at the rim, which is above average. Not bad for a rookie. As for threes, he is not hitting them as he is below average for the season at 34 percent. Keep firing Monk! Threes will be a big part of his game, and all he can do is keep shooting, and take more threes instead of long two's. 

Monk will be in the pick and rolls mostly for the rest of the season, and he has struggled in that department so far. He rates in the 10th percentile in pick and rolls according to Synergy Sports. However, Monk will be a little better than the beginning of the season, and he has to play through his lumps, it will be the only way he gets better. Charlotte can help Monk too by playing him with Kemba at times. That will hurt the defense, but it gives Monk more spot-up opportunities in which he ranks in the 74th percentile. Clifford needs to balance playing Monk on and off the ball because being able to do both is what will help his career. If they want to help him while he has the ball, why not put him in a few more iso situations. He ranks in the 52nd percentile in iso scoring this year, and it's an excellent way to get his confidence up. 

Charlotte has quietly placed at a faster pace this year, and that should continue with Monk. He is a lighting bolt and getting him involved in transition will help. Monk ranks in the 58th percentile in transition. I have seen some good things from Monk when he is attacking; Charlotte needs to put him in situations to succeed for the rest of the season, it is critical to his growth. 

As for distributing Monk has been alright. His assist to turnover ratio is fourth on the team, and so is his assist percentage. He is not a pure point guard, but he can make some slick passes. Now he will get the opportunity to do so, and his assist percentage is only slightly below average. His ability to protect the ball is above average, thus improving his passing will come with time. The good news is there is a foundation; it is a bit better than I thought it would be. 

Defending the Point

Monk has struggled on defense this season. No way around it. The good news is he has been better defending on the ball than off the ball. For Monks future, he needs to be able to defend ones, and he has at least shown the potential to do so one day. Charlotte should have him defending on the ball more often than not for the rest of the season. To give him a chance they should try playing him with the starters, so they can better protect him. If he is out there with Frank Kaminsky, they are going to bleed points. Monk has low steal and block percentages, so don't expect him to make too many defensive plays, but he also doesn't foul a lot, so that helps. He can get creamed on screens and int he offseason needs to get stronger, but for now, all you can hope for is consistent effort and steady improvement. 

The last 17 games, will be filled with struggles and flashes for Monk. There will be more bad than good, but the most important thing is his confidence has not waved. Ten shots in sixteen minutes showed that. The things to look for on offense is a better shot selection and more drives to the rim. On defense effort and awareness. If those areas show game by game improvement, then Monk will have a foundation to build on for next season. Charlotte is short on good young players; they need Monk to hit. It is imperative they spend the last 17 games finding ways to put Monk is successful situations. The future of Monk and Charlotte depends on it. 

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