NBA: Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford speaks Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, about Nic Batum's elbow injury suffered in Wednesday's preseason game against the Detroit Pistons. Rick Bonnell rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com
NBA: Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford speaks Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, about Nic Batum's elbow injury suffered in Wednesday's preseason game against the Detroit Pistons. Rick Bonnell rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Hornets

Hornets rookie Malik Monk is finding his open spots, but defense is more challenging

October 05, 2017 07:07 PM

UPDATED October 05, 2017 11:04 PM

With Nic Batum and Treveon Graham both injured – starter Batum severely with an elbow ligament tear – the Charlotte Hornets’ depth at shooting guard and small forward will be tested.

That figures to mean minutes for rookie Malik Monk, the 11th overall pick in June’s draft. Veteran Jeremy Lamb, who will likely move into the starting lineup with Batum hurt, likes what he’s seen already from Monk.

“I feel like he plays like me: He can score in different ways,” said Lamb. “He’s a shooter, he can get to the rim, he’s got a floater. He’s real good.”

Monk, who played one season in Kentucky before turning pro, averaged 12 points in the Hornets’ first two preseason exhibitions. He’s shooting 35.7 percent from the NBA 3-point line so far.

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Monk says the biggest challenge so far has been the speed of the game, playing defense – as in split-second decisions.

“The speed of the game and everybody is smarter; they know where the open spots are because they’ve been playing a lot longer” than him, Monk said.

Monk has also been figuring out his best scoring opportunities against NBA defenses.

“I was trying to do that against Boston; I found a little bit more open spots in Detroit,” Monk said. “I’m just learning every day.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell