After struggling to shoot the ball from range for the vast part of the last two seasons, the Lakers prioritized shooting and offense over defense in the offseason and free agency. The signings of Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn and Wayne Ellington indicate a shift in focus from one end of the court to the other.
Another intriguing name included in the Lakers summer signings is guard Malik Monk. After a breakout season in Charlotte, Monk came to Los Angeles on a minimum deal looking to play alongside Anthony Davis and learn from Russell Westbrook and a veteran roster. At the same time, Monk will provide the Lakers will a diverse scoring punch off the bench that they have not had, highlighted by his long-range shooting.
Monk’s breakout season including him shooting 40.1% from the 3-point line, a career-best mark. That percentage would have ranked only behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marc Gasol last season for the Lakers. That also comes despite not having nearly the open looks as the Lakers shooters did last year, an aspect that Monk is looking forward to this season.
“It will open everything up for me,” Monk said of playing alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. “A lot more easier shots, a lot more uncontested shots, a lot more drives where I can get downhill because LeBron, AD and Russ are going to make the floor more spaced out for all of us.”
Even without Westbrook factoring into the equation last season, James and Davis were able to create a significant amount of open and wide open looks for Lakers shooters. Here is a graph showing the open and wide open 3-point attempts for the Lakers last year as well as Monk in his season in Charlotte.
Some of the Lakers’ open shots came as a result of reputation as shooters like Dennis Schröder and, to a lesser degree, Kyle Kuzma were more likely to be left open. However, players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Wesley Matthews are more respected shooters and still had a healthy amount of open and wide open looks last season.
GIven a larger dose of open and wide open looks, Monk could prove to be a particularly potent weapon. His reputation as a shooter will also force defenses to respect his shot more and open up driving lanes for his teammates, superstars and role players alike.
“I just try to be the best I can in every little aspect of the game, and I think I bring a lot to the table here as well with all the greats here, man,” Monk said. “LeBron, AD, Russ, Carmelo (Anthony), Dwight (Howard), everybody man. Everybody. I can feed off them and I think I can learn a lot from them. So I bring excitement, just like Westbrook, to the game. Plus shooting.”
Ultimately, it should be a mutually beneficial partnership where the Lakers land a dynamic shooter and scorer and Monk lands in a situation he feels he can thrive after multiple years in Charlotte where he said consistent minutes were hard to come by season to season.
“I’m just thankful I have the opportunity to be here with all these greats and this amazing organization,” Monk said. “I think I’ll get everything out of it.”
If he is able to match last season’s output. Monk gives the Lakers a scorer unlike anyone they had last season. And that level of scoring would open up the floor for the Lakers that would take their offense to the next level.