By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 2:10pm
It’s been a rough two days for P.J. Washington.
His terrific 18-point, 15-rebound double-double against Kansas State was overshadowed by 12 missed free throws, the most ever by a Kentucky Wildcat according to Big Blue History’s Jon Scott. Following the loss, P.J. posted the picture above with the caption:
Even though the year didn’t go as planned I’m glad I got to be a part of such a special group of guys and I wouldn’t trade it for the world #BBN?
Naturally, not all of the comments on his post were positive. There were many haters, one of which came from an unusual source. Prentice Gill, a USC football graduate assistant who works with wide receivers, left the following comment:
A 27-year old who has been on USC’s staff for three years, Gill’s connection to Washington is unknown, but his comment is uncalled for.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 1:45pm
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 12:45pm
The Big KAT had Enes Kanter’s number in Madison Square Garden.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks to power past Enes Kanter’s Knicks for a 108-104 Friday night victory. Towns now has an NBA-leading 60 double-doubles on the season. Kanter also posted a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 15 rebounds, but the Knicks needed more scoring.
At least Kanter was wise enough to get out of Karl’s way.
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 23, 2018
Jeff + KAT, Vol. II. pic.twitter.com/2tRoV2fSuk
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 24, 2018
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 24, 2018
It was a pretty quiet night for Cats around the league. Outside of MSG, Jamal Murray was the only Ex-Cat to make some noise. He scored 20 points in the first half, including this beautiful finish at the rim.
— NBA (@NBA) March 23, 2018
Stats from the entire BBNBA:
|Jamal Murray||108-100 W vs. WIZ||25||8-20 (5-12)||6||3||2||1|
|Eric Bledsoe||118-105 W vs. CHI||13||4-8 (1-3)||4||4||0||2|
|Tyler Ulis||120-95 L vs. CLE||11||5-12 (0-1)||2||9||2||1|
|Trey Lyles||108-100 W vs. WIZ||DNP|
|Jodie Meeks||108-100 L vs. DEN||0||0-1 (0-1)||1||0||0||0|
|Bam Adebayo||105-99 L vs. OKC||0||0-5 (0-0)||7||1||0||0|
|Patrick Patterson||105-99 W vs. MIA||5||2-4 (1-1)||4||0||0||0|
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 11:45am
Kentucky’s first scrimmage of the spring season is currently underway. Poor weather will push the Cats indoors and limit team activities, but they can still get live 11-on-11 reps, a first for UK’s quarterbacks.
Eddie Gran is not asking a lot from his signal-callers. The playbook is thin. He just wants to see them make a few plays and keep the football in the offense’s hands.
“I want them to take care of the football, be efficient, know where to go with it..and make plays,” UK’s offensive coordinator said earlier this week. “We’re not going to have a ton in, so that’s what I’m looking for.”
There will not be a lot of complicated reads. Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw want to see if the QBs can live by their mantra, ‘the ball is the program,’ while facing pressure from a defense.
“Ball security is the No. 1 thing we talk about and No. 2 is we’ve got to make great decisions and great target throws,” Hinshaw said.
Danny Clark’s scrimmage goals remain simple.
“Just cleaning things up. Once you know what you have to do, the next step is eliminate as many mistakes as possible. Just making sure we’re going through our reads, going through our progression. When we’re in the pocket, it’s quick steps and we’re explosive, so just making the least amount of mistakes as possible.”
Terry Wilson knows he will not be perfect. As long as he keeps the ball in the offense’s hands, it will be a great day to play football.
“I’m going to make mistakes. I just gotta bounce back from those mistakes. I think that everyday I’m learning something new and that’s a huge step.” Wilson said he’s most looking forward to “letting loose and playing ball.”
The first live test of the spring will not be clean, but it will be an exciting first significant step in UK’s quarterback competition.
“We’ve gotta find out now when the bullets are flying what they’re all about, and we’ll know a little bit more Saturday,” Gran said.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 11:00am
Kentucky’s Pro Day gave exiting seniors one final platform to showcase their talent as they chase NFL dreams. After Mark Stoops helped give them a final send-off, he got excited about the future of his Kentucky football team.
“Next year you’re going to look at this Pro Day and you’re going to see a lot of (NFL) head coaches here, because we have some really good players returning that are rising seniors,” Stoops told the SEC Network’s Tony Barnhart.
Stoops believes his defense can finally maximize their potential. If they plug in the right quarterback, the Cats will be dangerous in 2018. “Overall we have a very good team and I’m looking to make a big jump.”
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 10:00am
Congrats! You made it through the first 24 hours after a loss. Now you have one final hurdle to navigate before returning to normalcy — the next game.
When coping with NCAA Tournament losses, this is the part I find most difficult. I could not watch the Duke-Wisconsin title game, I did not watch the 2010 Final Four and I don’t think I will be able to watch Loyola-Kansas State. I love Sister Jean, don’t get me wrong, but if the Ramblers do not advance to the Final Four the painful ‘What if’ game will surface and I don’t think I can handle that just yet.
To avoid this internal struggle, it’s best to completely ignore them. I began with Bingo last night. You can’t check scores while you’re dabbin’ numbers. Bowling is a good ole-fashioned rainy Saturday night alternative too. The movie theater might be the best place to avoid Elite Eight basketball, and a comedy might be the perfect prescription for your basketball blues. If you hate all of those recommendations, there are other sports to fulfill your fix.
Pro Day is Complete
Juice was fast, Mosier is back, Freddie was funny and the Patriots (of course) talked to Chuck.
Kentucky’s First Spring Scrimmage
Mark Stoops’ team will go live in an 11-on-11 scrimmage for the first time this spring. We’ll hear the results from Stoops and his staff around 2:00 this afternoon.
Until then, hear offensive line coach John Schlarman mic’d up during Tuesday’s practice. If you don’t appreciate the chalk talk, you’ll love the story he tells about his experience at Nutter.
UK Baseball Game Postponed
Game two of the Kentucky-Auburn series has been postponed, thanks to Mother Nature. If the rain goes away, the Cats and the Tigers will play a seven inning double-header at The Cliff tomorrow, beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Since you can’t get your baseball fix today, check out highlights from UK’s game one walk-off win.
Basketball never ends in Kentucky. That’s why tomorrow morning I’m leaving for Atlanta, and no, I’m not crazy. That’s where this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game is being played. I’ll have updates and interviews with Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley throughout the week that should get you excited for UK’s 2018-19 basketball season.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 11:00pm
As we close the book on another season of Kentucky basketball, the inevitable question becomes, how will this team be remembered?
If you go by results, the Sweet 16 finish puts this team ahead of the 2013 NIT group and the 2016 Tyler Ulis/Jamal Murray squad that lost to Indiana in the second round. A month ago, I think all of us would have gladly accepted that fate; however, a strong SEC Tournament run and a suddenly easy path to the Final Four skyrocketed our hopes for something more, making last night’s loss even tougher to swallow. The past week felt too good to be true because it was. The reality is, this team never really had all the pieces in place to make a run, a realization that’s finally settling into place.
Flash back a year to the aftermath of Kentucky’s loss to North Carolina in the Elite Eight. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, and Isaiah Briscoe were off to the NBA, Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, and Mychal Mulder graduated, and Isaac Humphries decided to return home to Australia to play professional ball. That left Wenyen Gabriel as the only returning player who logged significant minutes. Freshmen are the norm at Kentucky, but this kind of inexperience was unprecedented, even for Cal. For the first time since 2013-14, Kentucky didn’t have a veteran guard to help mold a freshman backcourt, and it showed.
Not helping matters were the injuries. In the fall, news broke that both Jarred Vanderbilt and Jemarl Baker would miss an extended amount of time, robbing Kentucky of arguably its most versatile player and the sharp-shooter they so clearly needed. In December, Quade Green got poked in the eye and a few weeks later, went down with a back injury, forcing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to take over at point guard. Shai’s hard work and ability to get to the rim became Kentucky’s identity, but once Quade returned, he assumed Shai’s old position off the ball, making for an odd role reversal that only worked when Quade was able to hit threes. Meanwhile, Kevin Knox showed glimpses of the elite talent that he is, but lacked the consistency to be the star the team needed to rise above its youth. Hamidou Diallo reverted before our very eyes.
After Vanderbilt returned and knocked off the rust, the team had to reinvent itself once again. Just as they were finally getting into the flow, Vanderbilt got hurt again, prompting another shuffle. Thankfully, that one resulted in an SEC Championship, the unexpected confetti moment most fans had given up on. Between Wenyen Gabriel’s historic three-point performance and Sacha Killeya-Jones’ awakening, hope suddenly bloomed. The win over Tennessee in the SEC Championship seemed like a trustworthy sign that this team was capable of something. The top four seeds in the South Region fell like dominoes, illuminating the path to another great story few of us could have imagined.
Sadly, this story didn’t end with a Final Four. Instead, it ended with a frustrating loss to a team that isn’t that good but managed to expose all of Kentucky’s worst traits. Injuries and inexperience prevented this group from reaching their potential; however, the growth that we witnessed is truly remarkable. For a team that looked so bad early on, especially on defense, to morph into the one that won the SEC Tournament is proof of Calipari’s genius. He’s better than anyone at getting a young group of guys to surrender their egos for the greater good. Now, he doesn’t always manage late game situations as we would like, but Kentucky’s turnaround this year is something to be proud of, even in the light of last night’s disappointing finale.
What now? As the McDonald’s All-American Game billboard outside the hotel in Atlanta reminded me, time marches on. Some players will stay, some will go. Unlike last year, more will do the former than the latter. The cupboard will not be bare; in fact, it could include the ingredients for Calipari’s most successful squads: veterans and freshmen (with two pure shooters in Tyler Herro and the returning Jemarl Baker) along with the extra time to make it right thanks to the foreign trip in August. Now that? That’s something to get excited about.
This season will be viewed as a disappointment by most, but the image I’m left with is of Calipari embracing Nick Richards during last night’s game. Richards is a good example of a kid who just couldn’t escape his insecurities. Watching him struggle this season was hard, but Calipari never gave up on him, something we could all keep in mind in the bleak light of the morning after.
— David Scott (@Finna_Go_HAM) March 23, 2018
By Trey Huntsman on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 10:39pm
In 2017, Kentucky did not walk-off a win once. Fast forward to today, where the Cats won their second game of the season on either a walk-off wild pitch or passed ball. The Cats trailed 4-2 entering the ninth inning but overcame the late deficit by scoring three runs in the inning to win 5-4 over the sixth-ranked Tigers.
It appeared late on Friday that the team would be headed for their first 0-4 start since 2005. The Cats had their hands full against All-American Casey Mize, but the team found a little magic against Auburn’s bullpen.
Mize was lifted in the eighth after striking out 12 in seven innings. The Tigers had given Mize a late lead when they scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead against Sean Hjelle and UK. Auburn sent Calvin Coker to pitch with a 4-2 lead in the eighth. Coker was brilliant in the bottom of the eighth, but UK’s offense got to the Tigers’ bullpen in the bottom of the ninth. Luke Becker, who had hit a solo home run off Mize earlier, collected a single to leadoff the frame. After a strikeout by T.J Collett, the Cats’ leader in home runs Luke Heyer stepped to the plate. The senior third baseman rocketed a two-run home run off Coker to tie the game at four.
Heyer’s home run sparked a rally that sent the Cliff into a frenzy. Ryan Johnson and Kole Cottam followed with singles to put runners at the corners with only one out. After an extended delay for pitching changes and pinch hitters, UK sent Marshall Gei to the plate hoping for a walk-off. The Cats were rewarded with their second walk-off of the season when Elliott Anderson’s pitch scooted to the backstop to score pinch runner Zeke Lewis from third and give UK a 5-4 win over Auburn.
CATS WIN! Passed ball gives UK the win over #6 Auburn 5-4! pic.twitter.com/FxwqyCBOqy
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) March 24, 2018
The Cats now have won two games this season when they trailed by two or more runs entering the ninth inning. Both times UK has scored three or more runs in the bottom of the ninth and won on a pitch rolling to the backstop.
The Cats and Tigers will hopefully be back in action tomorrow at noon. There is a good chance the game will be postponed due to weather and the teams will play a doubleheader on Sunday.
By Savannah Patton on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 10:30pm
The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.
You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.
#10 kelly jo smith
— kelly jo smith (@smittyland72) March 23, 2018
What a good fan!
#9 Chad Middleton
— Chad Middleton (@chadbbn1) March 23, 2018
We do what we can!
#8 Jonathan Austin
— Jonathan Austin (@Big_Puma15) March 23, 2018
The SEC doesn’t know what they’re missing.
#7 Kerry Flinn
@KySportsRadio you have to get Eugene to be a frequent caller he was gold
— Kerry Flinn (@FlinnKerry) March 23, 2018
Eugene has a fan club brewing.
— CDuv24 (@Pithapa24) March 23, 2018
I wish I had some poison right about now.
#5 Bob DeFoor
The sun rose again…
— Bob DeFoor (@Bob_DeFoor) March 23, 2018
Give me some of your positivity sir.
#4 Justin Sizemore
— Justin Sizemore (@JustinSizemore) March 23, 2018
Me all day today.
#3 Brad Mckee
— Brad Mckee (@bmckee50) March 22, 2018
Matt Jones or Ron Burgandy?
#2 Joe Seiter
— Joe Seiter (@JoeFromCincy) March 23, 2018
#1 Hayden Hooper
Oh and last thing. Thank you to @ThrowboyTees for making a t-shirt with my face on it. And thank you to everyone who has bought one and has sent me pics wearing it! That’s what makes this fan base the best.
— Hayden Hooper (@haydenhooper01) March 23, 2018
Hayden Hooper for President please.
WATCH: Austin MacGinnis, Garrett Johnson, Charles Walker, and Courtney Love talk to the media after Pro Day
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 10:00pm
UK Football held their annual Pro Day this morning, where 17 NFL teams were in attendance to check out the senior Cats work out.
Nick Roush wrote a post earlier today about the specific numbers, highlights, and standouts from the event, specifically with Garrett “Juice” Johnson putting on a show. You can check that out here:
After the event, the media had the opportunity to sit down with some of the stars of the event, including Johnson, Charles Walker, Courtney Love, and Austin MacGinnis.
“Juice” talked about posting the highest vertical of the day at 41 inches, which was an inch better than any receiver at the NFL Combine this year. He also talked about breaking the 4.3 barrier in the 40-yard dash, the preparation for the league he received at UK, potential landing spots in the NFL, and his mother making a surprise appearance.
Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer Austin MacGinnis talked about his incredible day, where he drilled every kick inside of 60 yards, resulting in a standing ovation from NFL scouts. He also talked about his overwhelming course load, the draft process, preparation, and what NFL teams have been telling him.
Kentucky linebacker Courtney Love discussed his growth in faith, his dedication to community leadership off the field, the NFL Draft process, and his recent weight loss/muscle gain.
Kentucky standout receiver Charles Walker discussed his happiness with his performance on the day, his excitement for his next major step in life, and why he started shaking when NFL teams asked for his cell phone number.
As a side note, the New England Patriots pulled Walker aside for a private workout, having him run specific Patriot routes and drills. Needless to say, he’s pretty amped about their interest in him.
Some things just seem meant to be… pic.twitter.com/YuSZAoA2ld
— KSTV (@KSTV_Sports) March 23, 2018
Check out his comments:
Here are some of the highlights from UK Football:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) March 24, 2018
Just over a month until these guys reach their NFL dreams.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 9:30pm
Tonight on Instagram, Kentucky forward Jarred Vanderbilt had some posts/captions of interest for the Big Blue Nation.
On his official page, Vanderbilt posted a typical end-of-the-year picture talking about not liking how the season ended but being thankful for the experience. At the very end, however, he included the phrase “Comeback gone be real.”
Here was the original post:
He then deleted the post, and re-posted the same image and caption… without the comeback part included.
Now, Vanderbilt changed the caption completely, talking about the BBN’s support, overcoming adversity, and being thankful for the memories he has made with his brothers at Kentucky.
With the season officially over, we should be hearing about potential NBA Draft news from Kentucky players in the coming days/weeks.
And Vanderbilt is certainly one of the main players of interest.
Did he let the cat out of the bag about a return to Kentucky? Did he delete the post because he doesn’t want people to overthink his comments? Does it mean he’s not coming back to Kentucky?
Who knows. What I do know, however, is that conspiracy theory season is officially underway.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 9:00pm
It hasn’t been the easiest NBA journey for former Wildcat Marquis Teague.
After being drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bulls back in 2012, he was in and out of the D-League just a year after. He signed with the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, and after brief success, never latched on as a core piece of the team.
He then played two more seasons in the D-League before heading overseas to carve out a major role there for a year. And again, he headed back to the states to play in new G-League this season for the Memphis Hustle.
Now, Teague has officially earned his way back to an NBA roster.
After averaging 18 points, six assists, three rebounds, and a steal per game this season, the Memphis Grizzlies are in the process of bringing him up to the league.
Marquis Teague being held out of the Hustle G League game tonight. Hearing he’s on the verge of getting called up to the Grizz for a well-deserved 10-Day.
— Michael Wallace (@MyMikeCheck) March 23, 2018
Yahoo! confirmed the news:
Sources: The Grizzlies are signing former first-round pick Marquis Teague of G League Memphis to a 10-day contract on Saturday.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 24, 2018
John Calipari has talked in the past about every player’s professional journey being different and the G-League being a beneficial outlet to develop your game for the NBA. We’ve seen it with Aaron Harrison, who just found himself in a similar situation by signing a ten-day deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
Now, Teague has his shot to make a lasting impression with Andrew Harrison on the Grizzlies.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 8:00pm
It’s been a rough day, so how about a podcast to cheer you up?
Matt Jones joined the Sklar Brothers “View From the Cheap Seats” podcast to talk about the Conway Twitty, Drew’s Instagram war with Russell Westbrook, favorite movies, and a bit about the NCAA Tournament.
He even had time to throw some beautiful Louisville jokes.
Check out the entire thing here:
Ok, #BBN, we know it’s a rough day for you guys as we’ve spoken to many of our KY fan friends. So you’re gonna need a laugh. Listen to us and the amazing @KySportsRadio (Matt Jones) come up with new #ConwayTwitty song titles 2 ease your tight fittin pain https://t.co/iAgSfRw8wa
— The Sklar Brothers (@SklarBrothers) March 23, 2018
For the direct iTunes link, check it out here.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 7:15pm
Former Owen County standout Carson Williams has asked for his release from Northern Kentucky and will seek a transfer from the school.
According to Don Owen of the NKY Tribune, Williams was officially granted his immediate release earlier this week.
“He’s given it a lot of thought and felt it was best for him to go to another program,” one NKU official told Owen.
As a sophomore for the Norse, Williams averaged 12 points on 61% shooting, 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists to help lead NKU to a 22-10 final record and a Horizon League regular-season title.
You may remember Williams from his standout performance against Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, where he managed 21 points on 7-10 shooting, seven made free throws, nine rebounds, and an assist. The Cats pulled out the nine-point victory, but Williams certainly made it tough on them.
At Owen County, Williams managed 2,967 career points and hauled in 1,671 rebounds. As a senior, the 6-foot-6 forward averaged 26.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, leading the Rebels to a school-record 29 wins.
Williams was considered a top-450 player in the nation and a consensus three-star prospect out of high school.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©March 23rd, 2018 @ 5:00pm
The Charlotte Hornets season has not exactly gone as planned. A team once poised to make a serious run for the playoffs and possibly their best season in franchise history, now sits six full games out of the postseason picture. There was legitimate reason to be excited about the Hornets. They have Kemba Walker, still not in his prime and posting crazy numbers on a nightly basis. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nic Batum were the reliable, veteran wing players. Dwight Howard, while still a questionable locker room guy, has proven that he still has plenty to offer (did you see he posted 32 points and 30 rebounds the other night?). Jeremy Lamb finally had his breakout season and they drafted two important rookie pieces for their future. Dwayne Bacon out of Florida State was selected 40th overall and their prize draft pick of number 11 overall was used to select none other than Kentucky’s own Malik Monk.
The hope for Monk was that he could come in and immediately contribute on the offensive end with the speed and impressiveness that he did at Kentucky. Monk is one of the best shooters Kentucky has ever had under John Calipari and no one could put up points with the swiftness that Monk could (except maybe Jamal Murray). Unfortunately, Monk came into the NBA still incredibly raw.
He began the season the same way most lottery picks do, showing signs of brilliance mixed with just as many mistakes. But after so many games, say 20 or so, there becomes two paths that high profile draft picks takes. Either they explode and continue to display their brilliance such as Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, or Lauri Markkanen. Or, they quickly regress and become a project like Monk or Jonathan Issac or Zach Collins, but that isn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. The odds of a 19-year old, fresh out of one season in college, making immediate and necessary impacts in the NBA is slim. Very slim. Monk has shown that he’s going to be a project for Charlotte, but one that could be worth it.
Monk’s first 12 games in the NBA were arguably his most successful. He averaged over 21 minutes per game, scoring 9.6 points while shooting 34.1 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from three. The percentages weren’t ideal, but the talent and reasoning for using a lottery pick on him were more than visible. A 25-point game against Milwaukee and a 21-point game less than a week later against New York made it very clear that he has the shooting stroke to make it in an NBA world built on outside shooting. Following the Hornets’ 12th game of the season on Nov. 10, a loss to the Boston Celtics, Monk would only register 20 minutes or more in one game until March. With no minutes coming his way, there were no more opportunities to showcase his talent.
It didn’t take long for the Hornets to fumble their season away. After starting off 8-9, they found themselves sitting at 11-21 exactly one month later. By the time All-Star weekend rolled around, the Hornets playoffs hopes were all but dead. Injuries plagued them early, but it soon became clear that the only way Charlotte could succeed on the basketball court was when Kemba Walker was doing everything for them. This season, the Hornets have a net rating of minus-10.0 when Walker is off the court compared to a plus-3.8 when he’s on the court. If Walker isn’t scoring at least 40 points, it feels like Charlotte has no chance.
With the season already folded and the Hornets essentially vying for draft lottery positioning, it would have made sense to give players such as Monk, Bacon, or even Treveon Graham and Willy Hernangomez (who was acquired at the trade deadline), all the minutes their hearts could desire. But that’s not exactly what happened. It wasn’t until the last day of February that Monk finally found himself back in the rotation. In that game – against the Boston Celtics – Monk played 18 minutes, shooting 1-7 from the field for three points. His minutes after that game only continued because of an injury to backup point guard, Michael Carter-Williams.
There was a 50-game gap between Monk’s promising start and the next time he would see consistent minutes. If teams are trying to develop young talent, that is the opposite way of how to do it. The best way for young players to turn into real NBA players is by playing, playing, and playing some more (I know, shocking right?). In a season already decided, the Hornets should have given Monk more run, and his play is going to unfairly recieve criticism because of it. Want to know just how eager Monk was to get on the court? In his one G League game this season (Dec. 26) that he played in, he shot TWENTY-ONE threes in 41 minutes, making seven of them.
Over the course of the Hornets last 12 games, Monk has played in 10 of them, averaging 16.3 minutes per game, a huge spike from the 7.4 minutes per game he was playing from Nov. 15 to Feb. 27. Admittedly, Monk’s numbers in these 10 games have hardly been encouraging. Averaging 7.3 points on a dreadful 30.2 percent from the field and an even worse 26.1 percent from three, he’s left much to be desired. The important aspect is that he’s still shooting. For Monk to make it in this league, he has to be a knockdown shooter. That was his calling card before he was drafted and it’s the most important area of professional basketball in this era. In those 10 games, he shot at least three three-pointers in all but one game, including 12 three-point attempts on March 17. At this point, Monk is just trying to find some sort of rhythm that he can ride into the offseason and next season.
He takes a lot of ill-advised shots, but, as ridiculous as it might sound, he needs to (maybe less contested stepback jumpers, but the point still stands). The more he gains a feel for the game, the more he’ll learn how to read defenses, manipulate pick-and-rolls (which is where he can really thrive), and find the most efficient way to get to his sweet spots.
But just as Monk was starting to feel comfortable within the offense, he bruised his shooting hand during the Hornets 61-point blowout (yes, you read that right, the Hornets beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night by 61 points because no one even dares to tank as hard as Memphis). It’s currently uncertain if Monk will return for the Hornets game in Dallas on Saturday, but the sooner he gets back the better. Even with less than 10 games left in the regular season, every minute counts for Monk. Through all the growing pains, and there will be plenty of growing pains, Monk will ultimately survive if/when the Hornets give him a real shot. It just looks like he’s going to have to at least wait for that moment until next season.