Who remembers the Score’s? They were that lovable 2018-2019 Kings team that came close to breaking the streak. Led by Iman Shumpert’s swagger, Dave Joerger’s incessant screaming, and an up-tempo pace that showcased the potential of De’Aaron Fox, the Scores came tantalizingly close to breaking the playoff drought. Unfortunately, Shumpert’s time with the Kings was short-lived as he was traded to the Rockets mid-season in exchange for a medium Baja Blast from Taco Bell and a late 2nd round pick.
During his time with the Kings, Shumpert made an effort to establish himself as a starting-level small forward. However, it became evident that his athleticism and quickness had declined. Despite this setback, he consistently brought a high level of passion, energy, and undeniable charisma to the team. Now, stepping into the role of the spiritual successor to the player who brought the ruckus, Malik Monk has emerged as a true game-changer for the current Kings team. In comparison to Shumpert’s impact, Monk’s contributions mean so much more, elevating the team’s performance to new heights.
At just 25 years old, Malik Monk is still a couple of years away from reaching his prime. Initially drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 2017, he faced an uphill battle in finding a consistent role within the team. With established players like Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, and even Tony ‘double checks the page’ Parker ahead of him, Monk had to navigate a crowded rotation. But hey, at least he can say he shared the court with a legend!
However, things took an exciting turn when Monk joined the LA Lakers in the 2021-2022 season. Given his first true opportunity as both a part-time starter and part-time sixth man, Monk truly showcased his potential. The breakout season saw him achieve career highs in various statistical categories such as points, rebounds, assists, and shooting efficiency, boasting an impressive 47% field goal percentage.
But perhaps his most impressive and impactful season came when he joined the Kings this past year. Embracing his role as the new “Shump man”, Monk brought a much-needed energy and enthusiasm to the team. He quickly developed fantastic chemistry with Domantas Sabonis and had a miraculous effect on De’Aaron Fox’s dunking abilities. Monk’s impact wasn’t limited to the court; he also positively influenced team morale and culture behind the scenes.
It’s remarkable to see the strong bond that Monk has developed with his teammates beyond the basketball court. A shining example of this is his dedication to making a meaningful difference in the Sacramento community. One such instance is his recent partnership with Keegan Murray for a charitable cause during the Midtown Church Golf Tournament.
As the postseason arrived, Monk elevated his game to another level. He boosted his scoring by 40%, from 13.5 points per game to an impressive 19 points per game. Additionally, he more than doubled his rebounding average from 2.6 to 5.4, proving crucial in gang rebounding situations where Kevon Looney was dominating the boards.
Overall, Malik Monk’s journey in the NBA has been filled with challenges and setbacks. However, he has shown tremendous growth and resilience, proving to be a valuable asset for any team he plays for. With his contract set to expire after this year, it is expected that the market rate for Monk has significantly increased, potentially reaching the likes of Jordan Clarkson’s three-year, $55 million extension earlier this off-season with the Jazz. Such an investment would be worthwhile considering the belief that Monk’s best performances are yet to come, while also acknowledging the irreplaceable impact he’s had on the team thus far..
If I were to make a prediction, Malik Monk should be a favorite for the 6th Man of the Year award. He has flourished in a well-defined role for the Kings, who have emerged as perennial playoff contenders. Furthermore, the increased national spotlight on the Kings, with 22 national TV games scheduled, further highlights Monk’s opportunity to showcase his skills and make a significant impact. Most Vegas books currently have his chances sitting at a tempting 10 to 1. It’s time for the world to take notice and witness Monk’s rise to 6th Man glory!