“Matt is the steak, Jeff is the sizzle.”
In just eight words, Ross was able to articulate the very essence of what makes something both of high quality and desirable.
The “steak” in Ross-speak refers to the fundamentals, the solid foundation on which anything worthwhile is crafted. The steak is consistent, dependable and organized. It is necessary, appreciated and well-regarded by the rational mind.
The “sizzle”, conversely, is the stuff that glimmers, the eye-catching, the holy sh*t I can’t believe what I just saw moments that inspire jaws to drop and motivates butts out of seats. It bypasses all intellect and goes straight to the most basic part of our brains. It is electric.
Time for Excitement
Prior to Thursday night, the Hornets were Matt Hardy. Proudly so, I would add. After nearly a decade of being neither steak nor sizzle, Charlotte had worked hard to finally build a foundation of fundamental competence.
Now, nearly five seasons into the Steve Clifford era, it was finally time to add a little bit of OHMYGAWD.
Expect the Unexpected
The moment Commissioner Silver called his name, Malik Monk instantly became the Hornets’ most explosive athlete. All due respect to Marvin Williams and Dwight Howard – veteran power dunkers who can still surprise with the occasional poster jam – but up until Monk, Charlotte had no one else on the roster who could rise and throw down.
Thirty-six feet from the basket? Two defenders on him? Malik will levitate and shoot over you.
Opposing defense locked in, no good look in sight? Malik will take and make those “no-no-no-YES!” buckets that can charge a crowd and demoralize the opponent.
No Risk No Reward
In my Offseason Preview, I highlighted the fact that the Hornets’ current regime has played it safe in the Draft over the past six or seven years – opting for solid singles and doubles over homerun swings.
That all changed Thursday night. With two high-floor, rotation ready guys staring them in the face (Donovan Mitchell, Luke Kennard), Charlotte bucked the trend and went with a small-ish two guard with a streaky shot and major questions on defense.
Monk’s slight frame and below average length demand that he be matched up defensively against opposing point guards exclusively. And given that the team’s best player, (Kemba) can’t guard wings either – expect the duo to play VERY LIMITED minutes together initially.
In fact, Monk’s size limitations at SG will dictate who Charlotte targets as their backup point guard in either free agency or via the trade market. Ideally, Monk’s backcourt partner would have the following qualities:
- Size and strength to guard SGs
- Lead Guard Skills
- Spot Up Shooting Ability
If you’re scratching your head trying to think of players who have all of these qualities (and are available), don’t worry – you’re not alone. There’s simply not many backup point guards who fit that description around.
They Got 0-9 Reasons
Even with the complications Monk adds to the team’s roster configuration – it’s still easy to understand why the team drafted him.
As I mentioned in our Offseason Preview, the Hornets were 0-9 in games decided by three points or less last season and lost all six of their overtime games. How many fourth quarter leads were blown simply due to Kemba resting and/or being gassed? How many winnable games were given away simply because Walker dared to have an off night?
If Monk’s collegiate ability to get buckets translates, he instantly upgrades Charlotte’s ability to stay in and close games that they’d become expert at giving away.
Oh, and he may just add a little excitement while doing it.
- Whoever the Hornets sign as their backup point guard is bound to play big minutes. Clifford LOVES playing Kemba alongside a big lead guard (see Lin, Jeremy) and no doubt the team craves insurance if (when?) Walker misses any time. Once you factor in those minutes at both guard spots, Monk’s 20 or so per night and MKG/Nic’s split time at SF, there’s only around 8-10 minutes per night remaining for another rotation wing. Jeremy Lamb ain’t gonna be too happy about that. Add in the fact that the team’s 2nd Round pick, Dwayne Bacon, plays a style that’s very similar to Lamb and it doesn’t take a hoops Nostradamus to foresee a potential JLamb trade sooner than later.
- Did Sacramento win the Draft or lose it? I can’t decide. While De’Arron Fox is a fine character prospect with upside, I’m worried about a lead guard who can’t shoot. Justin Jackson is a 22 and a half year old meh wing who weighs less than one of Ike Anigbogu’s legs. Harry Giles may never fully rebound from his dual ACL surgeries. As uncharacteristically responsible as the Kings were on Thursday, they may have been better off just standing pat and taking Monk at 10. Their loss, our gain.
- Who was a bigger Draft winner than NC State’s Dennis Smith? Smith seemed destined to be a classic big stats/bad team guy. Y’know, the kind of player who goes to Orlando or New York to average 18ppg for the first six or seven years of his career only to disappear from the league by the time he was 30. Not so anymore. With Rick Carlisle at the helm, responsible vets around him and solid ownership in Dallas, Smith will have every chance to max out this talents.
- Will Charlotte ever just keep a 2nd Round pick instead of either siphoning off cash in a trade down or outright selling? I get that Bob Johnson’s mismanagement (and stupid TV deal) leaked cash for years but good lord – even freaking Memphis moved into the Draft. If one of those guys taken from 31-39 pop (Ojeleye, Rabb, Bell, Bolden, etc), MJ will only have himself to blame.