Is it time for Mike Brown to start Malik Monk?

Sacramento Kings v Charlotte Hornets
Sacramento Kings v Charlotte Hornets / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Malik Monk is the Kings’ sixth man and one of the best bench players in the NBA. He runs the second unit. He provides a spark off the bench and often even closes games. Coach Mike Brown loves him in that role, but it might be time to shake it up and start Monk.

The Kings’ starting shooting guard spot is a problem. Kevin Huerter is struggling immensely, a mere shell of himself, and Chris Duarte is just not a starting-caliber player in this league.

Monk meanwhile is the Kings’ fourth-leading scorer, third-best playmaker, and leader in blocks per game. This is great production off the bench, but it is time that the Kings get more out of their starters. 

In five of the last seven games, the Kings lost the first quarter. It doesn’t matter how good your second unit is if they come in and the team is down by ten points already. Too often, the Kings start off slow and have to battle back from a deficit. 

One reason for that is that lately two of the five starters have been non-factors. Over seven games this month, Harrison Barnes scored double-digits three times but finished the other games with 3, 0, 6, and 4 points. 

Chris Duarte started the new year by taking over for Kevin Huerter as the starting shooting guard. He started five games so far and had to come in after barely 40 seconds when Huerter got hurt against the Hornets. 

Twice, he scored double-digits, but other than that, he never contributed more than one point and usually only plays ten to fifteen minutes. Those are not starter numbers. 

Kevin Huerter has not fared much better, contributing 4 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal in his lone start (not counting the few seconds he played before getting hurt in Charlotte) this year. 

If your starting lineup has such huge issues, it is tough to start games off on the right foot. 

Malik Monk could help the Kings start games off the right way

It is important to have a strong bench, but it is also crucial to start games playing well. Last season, the starting lineup of Fox, Huerter, Barnes, Murray, and Sabonis was great because it featured four of the Kings’ five top scorers as well as a promising rookie. 

That is not the case anymore, and it might just be time to start all of the Kings’ best scorers. Right now, there are five players on the roster who have consistently been reliable: Fox, Monk, Sabonis, Murray, and Lyles. That is not enough for a winning team, especially if two are coming off the bench.

Starting Monk would mean that the bench unit is without a real playmaker unless Keon Ellis can take a massive jump quickly. Since this is unlikely, Brown would have to stagger Fox’s and Monk’s minutes, ensuring that one is always on the court, and rely on Sabonis to create for others as well. 

Nevertheless, it just seems like the potential benefits outweigh the risks. First of all, starting Monk would add a scoring punch right from the beginning. Secondly, it would boost the Kings’ confidence. 

Too often they get rattled if they miss shots early and fall behind. It has led to some of the worst losses this season. Monk rarely ever loses faith in himself. He is confidence personified, and it rubs off on his teammates. 

Starting Monk is definitely worth a try and could really change how the Kings go into games.

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