When most NBA fans hear the name Chima Moneke, they likely sit there with a stunned look on their face pondering the questions, who is this guy? Where did he come from? And why sign him over the more notable free agents that are still available?
Moneke is a Nigerian player who has bounced around the globe trying to make his NBA dreams come true. Born on Christmas Eve 1995 in Australia, the 6-foot-6 222-pound forward is a culturally diverse man that has seen many different styles of basketball during his travels.
After playing college basketball at nearby UC Davis from 2016-18, Moneke played in both France and Spain for a handful of different teams from 2018-22. He also played for Sacramento Kings coaches Mike Brown, Jordi Fernandez, and Luke Loucks while competing with team Nigeria last Summer, which eventually led to him being signed by Sacramento when Brown and company took over.
So the Kings just signed Chima Moneke. He reminds me a lot of Gary Payton II with the Warriors. No wonder Mike Brown likes him a lot. I’d love to see him play a similar role with the Kings. We have options for the back up wing/forward spot now. pic.twitter.com/jWkly1AdH0— Magnus Savage (@MagnusSav) July 17, 2022
Though Moneke is not likely going to be a massive contributor for the Kings this season, I think he can still be an extremely useful tool off the bench. The best case scenario for him is that he proves he deserves to be on an NBA roster.
He went to a college program most in the nation are not familiar with and then bounced around in Europe. He also did not make the final cut for Team Nigeria at the Tokyo Olympics. Moneke will be playing with a chip on his shoulder this season and found the perfect situation to at least show he has the talent to be in the league.
On the flip side, the worst case scenario for Moneke would be that he proves all of his doubters wrong and becomes a wasted signing. Nobody is really expecting him to put the league on notice. However, what they are expecting is that whenever he does get an opportunity to play, he makes the absolute most of it and plays with a lot of heart.
If he’s simply content with wearing the jersey and sitting on the bench, the fans will not be happy that the Kings gave him a contract instead of someone that wants to work hard and help the organization.
That will also likely be Moneke’s role this season; the guy that needs to step in when someone else is out and play with heart. At his aforementioned size, he can play both small forward and power forward and will be used mainly as a rebounder. In college, he averaged over 9 rebounds per game during a two-year span and was also very effective on the boards in Europe.
He will also need to be a scrappy defender. Moneke can effectively guard one through four, though some of the ones may be a little too quick for him. He will likely never be on the court without one of Kings’ top five scoring options being in the lineup with him. However, to make his minutes worth it he will need to be a reliable option when his number is called.
This season is the most important year of basketball in Moneke’s life. He will not have to compete for Rookie of the Year, but he will have to compete with the other depth guys on the Kings’ roster and show that he is more valuable than them if he wants to stay in the NBA.