Malik Monk bolsters Sixth Man of the Year case with crazy performance in Minnesota

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves
Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

De’Aaron Fox missed his second game with a knee contusion last night. So, the Kings had to face the top team in the West and the league’s best defense without their star guard, offensive engine, and bucket-getter. 

The last time around that didn't go too well, as the Kings fell 117-96 to the Denver Nuggets. This time, the team battled, however, and they are now the only squad to hand the Timberwolves two home losses this season. 

The foundation for this huge win last night was a real team effort. As a team, the undersized Kings dominated the paint with a 68-54 advantage as well as the offensive boards and got out running, scoring 19 fast break points. 

Domantas Sabonis extended his league-leading double-double streak and recorded an impressive three blocks. Harrison Barnes and Keegan Murray stepped up, combining for 31 points, and especially Murray had good moments defensively. 

Keon Ellis got another start in Fox’s absence and recorded four steals along with one block to secure the Defensive Player of the Game crown. As Ellis got to start, Davion Mitchell was demoted back to his usual bench role and responded with one of his best games this season. 

It was Malik Monk who stood out most, however. 

Malik Monk carried the Kings to the win

We have seen him do it before. Monk is a walking bucket. He can score at will, take over games, and carry the team. Usually, he takes a backseat to Fox’s stardom and does what the team needs him to do off the bench, but with his best friend out, Monk understood the assignment. 

In Denver, he struggled to score, but not this time. Monk finished the game with 39 points on 16-29 shooting, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. 35 of those points came in the second half and overtime. The first half was not especially pretty, but, when it mattered most, Monk put the team on his back. 

This win was incredibly important for the Kings as it put them in the seventh spot in the West and created some distance between the Kings and the Lakers and Warriors. At the same time, it also added to Monk’s case for the Sixth Man of the Year award

Monk showed why he should be the front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year

Monk has been one of the best reserves in the NBA all season long. He leads the league in 20-point games off the bench by quite a margin as well as in total assists among reserves. 

There are other good bench players—Norman Powell, Tim Hardaway Jr., Caris LeVert, and Naz Reid all have solid cases for Sixth Man of the Year—but Monk should be leading that list, especially after a performance like this. 

It’s not even the first time he has come off the bench and carried the Kings to a win without Fox this season. We already saw him do it early in the season against the Lakers. 

Not many reserves in the league can do what Monk is doing this season.