The Lakers have made it official: Malik Monk is coming to Los Angeles after four seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, giving the purple and gold the type of reliable sniper they were missing last season.
The team announced the signing in a press release on Friday:
Malik Monk is officially a Laker pic.twitter.com/BarDZK0hZE— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) August 6, 2021
Our own Jacob Rude — who watched every game Monk played last season with the Hornets as part of his old job — already broke down many of Monk’s shooting numbers in his story when the news broke, and they are staggering. But it’s not just that Monk shot 40.1% from three that makes his addition so exciting (although it certainly helps). It’s the kinds of threes he was hitting.
Per Synergy, Monk ranked in the 90th percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers, which he figures to see a few of in Los Angeles. And he put up the aforementioned efficiency numbers while having a shot quality that ranked as an “F” in the Bball-Index’s statistical database.
Monk shot 40% on 3s with F 3PT Shot Quality. If you give him KCP or Wes' shot quality he's going to be shooting like 43% if his shot making holds.— Cranjis McBasketball (@Tim_NBA) August 4, 2021
Ellington & Melo are two others that are (tendencies cooperating) about to see massive jumps in shot quality.
Monk will obviously be a downgrade on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope defensively, but he will be an upgrade in how he lets the Lakers attack different coverages. If defenses attempt to only play him only for the threat of a three — something opponents did to Caldwell-Pope a ton last year — despite standing 6’3, Monk is the type of bouncy athlete with enough cutting and dribbling skill to make them pay for that decision.
“The God of Dunk” didn’t actually throw down a ton last year, but of his eight, three came when he was overplayed on screens to run him off the line. He should get more opportunities in a thinner Lakers backcourt rotation that will see the three other stars generate a ton of either open threes or opportunities to attack desperate closeouts.
But also, I just really wanted to post some clips his dunks:
Monk also has a bit more ability to create for himself than Caldwell-Pope. Of Caldwell-Pope’s 218 made shots, just 24 were unassisted. Monk created 67 of his 173 buckets. Some of that may have contributed to his shot quality ranking so low by the metrics above, but the overarching point is he is a more dangerous and versatile offensive weapon than the one the Lakers just lost. He should feast on the open looks he gets, and be able to create a few more when defenders play him tight.
Now, on the other end is where the Lakers will miss Caldwell-Pope more, as one of the best and most tireless perimeter defenders in the league. Monk is two inches shorter, and while he’s a decent team defender, he’s not a great individual one. He may improve under Frank Vogel and in the Lakers’ defensive culture, but the team will have to look for replacements for Caldwell-Pope’s type of defense elsewhere on the roster, if they can find it at all.
But that is the other part that should excite Lakers fans about Monk: He was only available because the Hornets pulled his qualifying offer due to a crowded backcourt that already features LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier and incoming rookie James Bouknight. At just 23 years old and coming off of the best season of his career, he likely could have gotten more than a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract from another team. He still chose the Lakers, taking a prove-it deal with a contender to show that he can contribute to winning alongside multiple stars, prioritizing demonstrating how good he can be over (likely) the chance at more money. That speaks to a hunger to prove himself, and means the Lakers are also likely getting production that will outstrip the amount they’re paying Monk, a must for a team with only limited means to add to their roster, and who needed shooting anywhere they could find it.
Monk will give them that when he plays around their stars, and may just be able to flash a little bit more in certain bench-heavy units. It remains to be seen if he’ll start or enter the game as a reserve, but he should be more than capable of spacing the floor for LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis while also giving Frank Vogel one more player who doesn’t need to only be spoon fed offensively.
And on a team with a bunch of older veterans, Monk will also provide some crucial young legs, in addition to a guy hungry to prove he can do more on nights when the team is shorter staffed (and sometimes even get red-hot when doing so). Of all the Lakers’ new free agency signings, Monk has the potential to be the highest-upside if he pops in his new situation, but even at his floor, should help an offense that needed all the extra firepower it could get in the half-court.