Every year, the Sixth Man of the Year award is given out to the most impactful bench player for a season. Notable winners include Manu Ginobili, Jamal Crawford, and Lou Williams.
This season, the Kings’ sixth man Malik Monk is in the running once again after finishing fifth in voting last season. So, let’s see how solid his case is.
Malik Monk fits the description
In recent years, the award has largely been handed out to players listed as shooting guards. Out of the last 10 winners, only one—Montrezl Harrell—did not play the two. The last three winners—Malcolm Brogdon, Tyler Herro, and Jordan Clarkson—all averaged somewhere between 14 and 20 points per game.
Monk is currently averaging 15 points on good shooting, 2.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists for a winning team. He clearly fits the type of player voters have been looking for in recent years.
So do most of the other candidates, however.
How does Malik Monk match up with the competition?
Monk has plenty of competition for the award that we can currently narrow down to a group of six players: Norman Powell, Jordan Clarkson, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Caris LeVert, Naz Reid, and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Out of that group, Clarkson currently averages the most points per game off the bench with 17.8. Monk is fourth, but only one of the players ahead of him—Tim Hardaway Jr.—is playing for a team with a winning record. If the team is winning, the numbers automatically mean more.
Monk is one of the best bench scorers in the league, leading the NBA in 20-point games off the bench. He does much more than just score, however.
Since coming to Sacramento, Monk has grown immensely as a playmaker. He never averaged more than four assists per game over his career, so the 5.3 he is putting up this season marks a huge leap.
It is the third-most on the Kings’ roster behind only Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox and leads this group of candidates for Sixth Man of the Year by a good deal. Next in line is Clarkson with 4.8 assists per game.
So, Monk definitely has a solid case to win the award, backed up by the numbers. He is the fourth-leading scorer on a playoff team in a tough Western Conference, regularly explodes for big 20-point games, and dishes out more assists than any of the other candidates.
There are two things that could get in his way, however. The first one is that Norman Powell, Caris LeVert, and Naz Reid all play for teams with some of the best records in the league this season. Besides, voters have a tendency to overlook the Sacramento Kings, even now that they are a good team. We just saw it in the All-Star voting, as the Kings were the only playoff team in either conference to not get an All-Star.
Whether he wins the award or not, Monk is still one of the Kings’ most important players and already earned himself a nice payday in free agency (hopefully from the Kings).