Lakers player season grades: Malik Monk

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Five years ago, Malik Monk of the University of Kentucky was the 11th overall pick in the NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, and he was thought to have great potential as a scoring combo guard in the pros.

But after four seasons, he had failed to pan out, and he had started just one game in the NBA.

Thus, there wasn’t much interest in him as a free agent last summer, and the Los Angeles Lakers were able to scoop him up for the veteran’s minimum salary of about $1.8 million for one season.

Monk may have been the biggest bargain in the entire league this season.

Monk can do just about everything offensively

A 6-foot-3 guard with explosiveness and hops, Monk was one of the few bright spots in what was otherwise a disastrous season for the Purple and Gold.

Outside of LeBron James, he was the team’s most consistent option on offense.

He can create his own shot off the dribble, whether it is an outside shot or something at or near the rim, and he was highly accurate from distance, making 39.1 percent of his 3-point shots on the season.

In nine contests this season, Monk hit at least five 3-pointers, which is indicative of how hot he got plenty of times throughout the campaign.

He was also an extremely reliable finisher near the hoop, as he converted 72.5 percent of his shots from three feet and in this year.

Off the ball, Monk was also excellent. He connected on 41.9 percent of his catch-and-shoot treys, and he became a big target for the Lakers in transition with his ability to throw down thunderous dunks.

Monk has never been known as a playmaker, but he improved in that area. He averaged 2.9 assists per game on the season, but he dished out 3.8 dimes in March and April.

Defensively, he is no world-beater, but he did do a decent job of contesting jump shots, holding his man to a 34.5 percent rate from outside of 15 feet.

Monk ended up leaving Lakers fans with a lasting impression by saving his best for last with a 41-point nova in the final game of the season on 14-of-25 shooting and 7-of-14 from downtown.

Overall grade

Some fans may nitpick Monk’s defense, but he wasn’t brought in to shut down opposing guards. He was brought in to provide instant offense in multiple ways, and that’s exactly what he did with flying colors.

Unless the Lakers are lucky enough to acquire a comparable player in a potential Russell Westbrook trade, they must find a way to sign Monk to a new contract and keep him on the roster if they are to become an elite team again next season.

Final grade: A

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