It’s time for the Charlotte Hornets to unleash rookie Malik Monk
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After falling the Toronto Raptors, Steve Clifford’s side is now 8-12 and 12th place in the Eastern Conference after losing their last seven games away from home. In this edition of Buzz City Beat, we look at if the Charlotte Hornets can find a winning formula, Kemba Walker being the fourth best clutch player in the league and Malik Monk getting back into the rotation.
Can Charlotte find a winning formula? (SportsNaut.com)
What is head coach Steve Clifford to do here? Does he look to give rookie Malik Monk more playing time? Maybe GM Rich Cho decides that Monk and other members of this team could be used as trade chips to bring in another proven veteran. In any event, the Hornets are much too talented to be among the bottom-rung teams back east.
Over the past few years, the Hornets have relied on stout defense to win games but that isn’t working for them this season as they rank 19th in opponents points per game and 16th in defensive rating. Coach Clifford must change something going forward because the current formula isn’t resulting in wins. At this point, finding a winning formula is the biggest question mark surrounding Charlotte.
It doesn’t help that the team’s been dealing with multiple injuries to key players all season as well as their bench play being wildly inconsistent. Mentioning Malik Monk, he could be the x-factor. I don’t think Rich Cho will think to trade their highly-touted rookie prospect but if he’s not getting playing time while the team is losing, something has got to give sooner rather than later.
Kemba is one of the best clutch players in the NBA (BleacherReport.com)
Smoosh his upgraded decision-making and shot distribution together, and Walker has the tools to scare interior defenses into confounded tizzies. Damian Lillard is the only player who has attempted more free throws in the clutch
The Hornets’ all-star point guard has been the fourth most clutch player in the NBA so far this season. He ranks only behind Damian Lillard (3), LeBron James (2) and Kyrie Irving (1). Kemba’s made a name for himself by hitting clutch shots and game winners over the years.
The only problem is that Walker’s stellar play late in games hasn’t resulted in that many wins this year. Kemba has played in 11 “clutch” games (within five points in the last five minutes) so far this season but the team only has a 5-6 record in those matches. Compare that to Lillard (8-6), LeBron (7-4) and Kyrie (9-4) whose teams all have winning records in clutch games. (NBA.com)
Malik Monk returns to the rotation (FantasyPros.com)
On a night where it appeared as though Malik Monk may receive more run with Kemba Walker out, Monk worked his way to a mere nine points to go along with four assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
Steve Clifford chose to bench Monk in favor of Michael Carter-Williams who is only shooting 20.9% from the field this season. Clifford made the move because of defensive reasons but if MCW is struggling that much on the offensive end, there is no reason to keep playing him over Malik. It will be interesting to see what happens once Kemba Walker returns but I’d love to see the rookie maintain a consistent role off of the bench.