Monday, March 12, 2012

Player to Watch: Detroit Piston Greg Monroe

The Detroit Pistons, the guardians of the Eastern Conference Finals for nearly a decade, have been shipped down the line the last few years.  Their cushy term as pencilled-in Conference Finalist exhausted, they are the team even Miami Heat fans will likely skip watching when the team comes to South Beach.

Be it bad contracts, injuries, or not meeting expectations, Detroit's core over the last few years hasn't exactly induced the sense of a 2000s reenactment.  But there is one player who gives hope to the Pistons: Greg Monroe.

Monroe has a knack for the bucket.  
Monroe is a 21-year-old sophomore NBA center on a bad team- a situation that claims the confidence of most players.  Inspiringly, Monroe has emerged and continued to meet the greater amount of responsibilities thrown his way.

Comparing year one to year two, Monroe's minutes, Usage rate, and shot volume have skyrocketed with no significant hit to his efficiency.  He's averaging 16.3 points on 55.6 percent True Shooting, and the majority of his scoring comes unassisted, which means he's creating for himself efficiently.

Monroe's scoring style is ground-based.  He's not an explosive athlete by any means, but he's a big-bodied southpaw who knows how to move himself into scoring positions on the interior and along the baseline.  An engine on the offensive glass (14.2 offensive rebound rate, fourth in the NBA), Monroe manufactures points.  It would be nice to see him drive up his foul draw rate; he's not Al Jefferson-bad at drawing fouls, and he doesn't have to be Dwight Howard, but he should look to draw more contact, especially since he shoots nearly 80 percent from the foul line.  He needs to learn how to mix his craftiness with his heft and some 'bows.  

Perhaps his best attribute is his passing.  He can deliver interior passes, high-lows, and passes from the mid-post to cutters in the lane- basically everything Pau Gasol can do.  Many of his assists result in close-range shots.  As he develops a respectable jump shot and Detroit improves their putrid 3-point shooting corps, Monroe should find himself assisting on more 3-point shots via swing passes from the top of the key.

Monroe only takes 2.1 shots per game outside of nine feet.  If he can improve that, it could be a big weapon, particularly in pick-n-pop scenarios with Rodney Stuckey.

Defensively, Monroe is gritty, but his relative lack of athletic ability hurts at times.  He's a big-time rebounder though, and Detroit is an above-average rebounding team; if they get the right players, the team could be a good defensive team with Monroe as a helpful piece.              

Detroit is finding itself.  After years of being in flux, Detroit is finally assembling a sustainable model, with Monroe as an anchor piece.    
    

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