The Los Angeles Lakers made a number of high-profile moves this past summer. The signings of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard were widely hailed and celebrated by fans at the time.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of Malik Monk went almost unnoticed by some. He doesn't have the experience or notoriety as some of the other names mentioned above.
Months later, and Monk has emerged as one of L.A.'s most important players, starting on several occasions throughout the season so far.
Speaking to The Athletic, Monk described his journey to Los Angeles and what it's like to have found so much success after drawing so little interest as a free agent months ago.
“It kind of hit me hard when nobody really wanted me besides the Lakers, man,” Monk said. “It was hard for me. Some days, I didn’t know what to think.”
“Obviously, he was a high draft pick, so from his perspective, he comes in with high expectations of what his career path is going to look like,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “And they didn’t have a lot of winning the first few years that he was there (in Charlotte). His role was inconsistent, and I think all of these guys have a great deal of pride that they can have a strong career, and he’s a self-confident young man.”
Monk said he took the slight as motivation and “put fuel in my tank and just held it until the time … I get to play, man, and prove that I can play for a long period of time.” “That,” he said, “is what I’m doing now.”
Monk, 23, is having one of the best seasons of his career so far. Averaging 11.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game on 47% shooting, he has emerged as a dependable offensive force for the Lakers.
It's hard to say what's next for Monk and his squad, but he's come a long way since being drafted in 2017 and continues to show that he can be a valuable guard in this league.