Big men who can play are coveted throughout the NBA. Coaches and GM’s dream of pulling their next decade center out of the lottery. When we are talking about a pivot man who can score and pass out of the post, provide solid defense and rebound at his position that is a near complete player.
One of the limited examples of this all-around package is the Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe. Since being picked seventh in the 2010 NBA draft the Georgetown product has been highly productive. In fact after just two months in The Association fans began to see the incredible versatility of the 6’11” former All-American.
It took Monroe just 32 games to get out the rookie wrinkles. On January 4, 2011 against the Lakers he notched his first career double-double going 6-of-9 from the floor with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Monroe continued his superb play the rest of the way for the Pistons. Coach John Kuester had the good sense to get Monroe into the starting lineup at the expense of minutes for aging superstar Ben Wallace and former Maryland Terp’ Chris Wilcox. Their lottery pick proved up to the challenge.
In Detroit’s final 48 games of 2011 Monroe averaged 13 points and 9 rebounds to go along with 1.5 steals in 33 minutes/night. Plus he was highly efficient connecting on 59% of his shot attempts.
In his third season Monroe became an elite passing big man. 2013 saw him become just the third player in the NBA since the turn of the century to post a season of 15 PPG, 9 RPG, 3 APG and 100 steals. Since the late 90’s only Monroe, Kevin Garnett and Chris Webber have accomplished this feat.
Now Monroe is on his third NBA coach in three plus seasons. The talent around him has not been great and he is still just 23 years of age. Detroit failing to make the playoffs has not been due to Greg Monroe’s play. They should be thrilled to have him in the front-court alongside emerging star Andre Drummond.