Malik Monk has been one of the positive surprises of the Los Angeles Lakers season thus far. Nicknamed “Microwave” for his ability to quickly get hot and score in bunches, Monk has been a relatively consistent figure in a Lakers lineup that has severely lacked in that department.
Monk has scored in double figures in 15 of his 30 games. But he has been especially great since returning from the league’s health and safety protocols. After missing 12 days of action, he is averaging 22.5 points on 55.6% from the field in the two games since his return.
Lakers temporary head coach David Fizdale spoke highly of Monk for showing a veteran-like presence despite still being very young.
“I think the thing that impresses me the most with Malik Monk is the pace that he plays the game at,” Fizdale said after Tuesday’s win over the Houston Rockets. “He plays with a real mature temperament, kind of Lou Williams-ish. I don’t like to get too deep into the comparison on it, but he just has that real nice tempo to his game and he knows the right play to make at the right time.
“Whether it’s a pocket pass back to the big, or take it all the way and finish or come off it and rise from three and he’s starting to find his game. The one thing I know is that when LeBron James has the ultimate confidence in you, boy that has to feel good and I know LeBron’s got big-time confidence in Malik Monk.”
Monk is only 23 years old, but is already in his fifth NBA season. During his four-year stint with the Charlotte Hornets, he showed flashes of potential, but also had behavioral issues and was known for a lack of effort on the defensive end.
So far in L.A., he has not only shown defensive improvement, but he looks like a significantly more mature player, as Fizdale said. Against the Rockets on Tuesday, Monk got his third start of the season with the Lakers choosing to move LeBron James to center.
Monk and James have shown good chemistry on the court together, so Monk may have found a role as a temporary starter until the team gets most of their role players and Anthony Davis back in the lineup.
Austin Reaves, Kent Bazemore clear protocols
The Lakers are starting to get some of their reinforcements back in the lineup, as Austin Reaves and Kent Bazemore have cleared the health and safety protocols.
Both will be out on Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies, but both look to be available when the Lakers face the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
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