There are a ton of reasons why the Sacramento Kings have looked like a brand new franchise this year. Every piece just seem to be clicking at all levels. One piece in specific that has stood out is the addition of Malik Monk.
Before he even stepped foot in Sacramento, the idea of Monk reuniting with his former college teammate De’Aaron Fox was stirring to say the least. At the University of Kentucky, the duo was one of the most electric back court pairs in recent collegiate memory. With Fox already on the cusp of stardom and Monk coming off a career year with the Lakers, the excitement was real.
However, one question still remained. Would Monk start alongside Fox or come off the bench? Then head coach Mike Brown announced Kevin Huerter as the starter. Something that has remained constant throughout this season.
But just as I thought before the season, this was the right decision for everyone.
Malik Monk has been one of the best finishing guards in the league this season, shooting 75.9% within 3 feet and 70.1% in the restricted area.— Kings Film Room (@SacFilmRoom) November 29, 2022
Elite finishing package: reverses, great body control + strength, finishes with either hand, gets good hangtime, just so impressive. pic.twitter.com/CCw3eNWdu6
While Huerter has been phenomenal for the Kings in the starting role, Monk has been sensational for them off the bench. Of all the problems the Kings have had for the last decade and a half, a lack of depth has been a big one. There was always an issue of who’s going to lead the second unit. Monk has solved that issue and more.
Not only has Monk been a spark plug for the team when they’re in a lull, but he has been terrific at setting up his teammates for their own opportunities and being the floor general when Fox or Domantas Sabonis are off the floor. Especially during this recent stretch.
His teammates and coaches have mentioned numerous times how he’s the life of the team and always brings an infectiously uplifting joy to the locker room. At the end of the day, if you aren’t having fun playing basketball, you aren’t going to achieve your goals for the season. It’s the little things like Monk’s attitude that will lead this team to their best season in a long time.
Mike Brown: “Malik Monk should get some mention for sixth man of the year I’m just putting that out there. He is more than just what you guys are seeing on the floor. He’s been fantastic. Whether it’s on a bus, the plane, the hotel, practice, shoot around. He’s been really good for us to have around.”
Mike Brown is making it clear that Malik Monk deserves some Sixth Man of the Year consideration pic.twitter.com/a1o6y3h90t— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) December 1, 2022
But no matter what he brings to the locker room, he can’t win an award without the numbers to back it up. Good thing he has that too.
In the month of November, Monk established himself as one of the league’s best bench players and has been one of the main reasons why the Kings have been so successful to start the year.
Here are some of his best stat lines with the Kings:
- 11/30 - 20 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 3/6 3PT
- 11/28 - 30 points, 8 assists, 70.6 percent FG
- 11/23 - 27 points, 4 assists, 2 steals, 67 percent FG
- 11/17 - 26 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 4/9 3PT
- 11/7 - 24 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
These numbers are fantastic. Especially when you add the fact he’s doing it all while averaging just 22.4 minutes per game.
Malik Monk in his last 7 games:— Sac Kings Talk (@CapCityCrown) December 2, 2022
Sixth man of the year? pic.twitter.com/tYLHBfrnMB
In order for Monk to have a real shot at taking home the award, two things will need to happen. The Kings will have to continue this high level of play all year — ending their playoff drought — and Monk will have to continue being a leader off the bench while simultaneously putting up some attractive numbers for the voters.
Last season’s Sixth Man of the Year was the Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro. Not only did the Heat make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, but Herro gave them 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists off the bench. Those numbers would be good for a starter on a winning team. Of the last five players to win this award, the one with the worst stats — Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz in ‘21 — still averaged 18.4 points, 4 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Even after his recent stretch of great numbers, Monk is currently averaging 14.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. While these stats most likely won’t get it done, it’s only December. Monk is also the type of guy that when he gets hot, he stays hot. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the month he was averaging closer to 16.5 points. A good number for him to build off if he wishes to make a real push for some hardware.
The Kings have attracted much more media attention this season and have some nationally televised games again. This will allow people who normally wouldn’t watch the Kings to have a real chance to see what’s going on in Sacramento. This is a different team and it’s players deserve some recognition.
Personally, I think Monk has a really good shot to win the award. Do you think he has what it takes?