Malik Monk is an early candidate for Rookie of the Year, but the Charlotte Hornets may not see their 2017 lottery pick in a game until it really matters.
After being a top-10 pick in a lot of mock drafts, Malik Monk fell to the Charlotte Hornets at No. 11 overall last Thursday night. He had a great lone season at Kentucky, averaging 19.8 points per game while making close to 40 percent of his 3-pointers and over 82 percent from the line on his way to winning SEC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. He is in line for a significant role immediately, even as a potential sixth man off the bench.
Healthy NBA rookies, regardless of draft status, generally play in summer leagues. The prospect of seeing lottery picks on the floor helps drive interest in those games, and adds relevance to otherwise mundane contests.
On that note, the Hornets have announced Monk is doubtful for Orlando Summer League play due to a sprained left ankle.
Monk apparently suffered the injury during his pre-draft workout tour. The Hornets suggested his rehab will last 2-4 weeks, with no concern about his status for training camp and certainly the start of the regular season under that timetable.
For a player like Monk, who has no question about a roster spot or role, the value of playing in summer league is minimal. There’s something to be said for taking an NBA floor for the first time, but putting up good numbers in a fairly casual setting against lesser talents doesn’t prove anything. There’s only downside involved, especially if Monk is not 100 percent healthy and has been dealing with a nagging injury for a few weeks.
Having Monk ready to go when the games start to count in late-October is the No. 1 priority for the Hornets. Putting him on the bench for summer league is the right plan.