“Dynamic.” “Intriguing.” “Fascinating.”
New Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego used those words to describe the possibilities guard Malik Monk presents, even if Borrego isn’t precisely sure yet how Monk should be used.
Monk was the 11th overall pick, by the Hornets, in last June’s draft. He didn’t play extensively, or with consistent minutes, until late in his rookie season. But in those last six games, when he played a minimum of 24 minutes, Monk averaged 19.8 points and 47 percent shooting from the field.
Borrego told the Observer Friday, following his introductory news conference, that he’s still figuring out Monk’s role, but it will be significant and varied.
“He’s what I’m looking for in playing the style I want to play: He can get to the rim. He can create his own shot. He can shoot it out to 3. He can play-make for us,” said Borrego of the 6-foot-3 Monk, who turned 20 in February.
Monk left Kentucky after one college season, in which he averaged 19.8 points. One of his strengths that season at Kentucky was his scoring in transition. Borrego said Friday he wants to play at a faster pace than the Hornets did under coach Steve Clifford. He mentioned attacking opposing defenses in the first five to eight seconds of possessions.
“As I went through this process, I became more and more intrigued by him. I saw him a little bit in college. I studied him a little bit in the draft. But at our (draft) position (29th), I didn’t study him as much as your group did here.
“I see him as a playmaker, who can play with Kemba (Walker) and also be on the court without Kemba, creating offense for us. (Or) pairing him and Nic Batum in a lineup where Nic is facilitating,” Borrego told the Observer.
“He’s a combo (guard). I don’t know until I get my hands on him where I’m going to put him or how we’re going to play him. But he’s just going to be a very good basketball player who fits today’s NBA. A kid that is dynamic and can shoot it already.”
That doesn’t mean Borrego is oblivious to the flaws that limited Monk’s minutes as a rookie. He had defensive challenges, particularly when asked to defend bigger shooting guards. He also demonstrated some dubious shot-selection, finishing the season at 36 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range.
“I think he took some tough shots last (season). I think he would say, and the group would say, he took some very challenged shots. It’s my job to really harness that in, and help him with shot selection.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell