Friday, June 25, 2010

The Pansophic Overview of Greg Monroe

With the 7th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select ...

Greg Monroe, center from the University of Georgetown.

And now I present, everything you ever wanted to know about Greg Monroe:

Greg was born on June 4th in 1990, just three days after President George H.W. Bush signed the treaty which effectively ended the Cold War. Ten days after Greg was born, the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship.

Growing up in Harvey, Louisiana, young Greg was an obvious talent from a young age but a very raw player. As a high school freshman, he stood 6'8" but could only bench press about 100 pounds. But tireless work in the gym and the weight room helped Monroe become a high school phenom, a physical force, and eventually a McDonald's All American.

He chose to play his college ball at Georgetown, a school which has produced Hall of Fame caliber centers in Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutumbo. Monroe was coached by John Thompson III, son of the legendary Georgetown coach who developed all 3 aforementioned players into NBA stars. In his freshmen season, Monroe stepped into the starting lineup to replace senior star Roy Hibbert, who had just been drafted in the first round by the Raptors. Monroe played in all 31 games his freshmen season, scoring almost 13 points a game along with 6.5 rebounds. He also led the team in steals (1.8) and blocks (1.5) and shot a sparkling 57% from the field. He showed a knack for drawing contact and getting to the free throw line, where he shot just 70%.

As a sophomore, Monroe improved to 16 points a game and 9.6 rebounds, while his assists totals nearly doubled to 3.8 per game, one of the highest marks among NCAA centers. He continued to average great defensive numbers (1.5 blocks, 1.2 steals), and his FG% dropped just a litle to 52%, while his FT% dropped to 66%. Most importantly, he led Georgetown to a 20-9 record, a 4 game improvement from the previous season, and a #3 seed in the big dance. He played one of his best career games in the tournament against#14 seed Ohio, putting up 19 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, and shooting 7-11 from the floor. However, the Hoyas lost by 14 points, thanks in part to Monroe's 7 turnovers.

Monroe was visibily upset during the first-round upset, pounding his fists on the floor after a crucial offensive foul was called on him. After the game, he implied that he would be back for his junior season, saying "I'm ready to go back and see how I can help my team next year."

Alas, Monroe instead opted for the NBA draft on April 17, and was immediately considered a likely top 10 pick. He showed flashes of brilliance in his 2-year college career, most notably during a dominant game against NCAA runner-up Butler in which he went for 24 and 15, as well as 29-16 game against Villanova and a 23-13-7 against Marquette. There was also his 12 assist effort against Providence. All season long, he wowed scouts with his great hands and moves in the low post, and was considered among the best big-men in college basketball.

Although black-t0-white comparisions are for whatever reason forbidden, I'll say that the closest comparision to an NBA star for Monroe is Pau Gasol. He's been compared to Odom, Bosh and even Duncan, but Gasol is the best comparison to me. Both players have basically the same measurements - 6'11", 240 pounds for Monroe, 7'0", 250 for Pau - and play very similar styles. Neither are power-move centers, like Shaq or Howard, but rather finesse big-men with great hands and soft touch. Both players employ a lot of hook shots and spin moves in the post, and neither relies on brute strength or athleticism. Gasol is a better jumper, a better athlete, and a better all-around defender, but both he and Monroe are good in transition and are excellent passers. Neither is an outside-shooter, but both can shoot mid-range jumpers with nice touch.

Like Gasol, Monroe is sometimes labeled too passive and defers to his teammates rather than taking over games with a 'killer instinct.' When you have a teammate like Kobe Bryant, that's ok, but on the Pistons, Monroe is going to have to learn to be Mr. "Go-To" in crunch time.

That, in my mind, is what keeps this from being a great pick. Monroe doesn't have "Best Player On A Championship Team" potential because of his team-first attitude and hesitancy to attack the basket. His unselfishness is one of the reasons he was a top 10 pick, but also one of the reasons he's a major bust candidate. He has to straddle the difficult balance between being aggressive and being unselfish, and it's not natural for him. We need someone who can score in crunch time and put the team on his shoulders and say "I got this."

That's why I kind of like the Duncan comparison. Obviously TD is the highest ceiling potential for Monroe, and while TD was "Best Player on a Championship Team" several times, he was also willing to defer to Parker and Ginobili on offenses possessions late in games. Duncan provided the leadership, defense, rebounding, and the smart plays. Those are all things Monroe can do or can learn to do. What Detroit needs to do is surround him with capable scoring guards, guys exactly like Tony and Manu. I don't think our current group of guards fits the bill. But don't worry, I'm extremely confident that we'll be picking in the top 10 again in the next draft, possibly in the top 5.

Turning this Detroit team around isn't going to be a quick-fix. Thanks to Dumars signing Gordon and Villanueva to long-deals, we're in financial hell for the next year at least. Rip's expiring deal gives us some flexibility in next summer's free agency, which doesn't have LeBron or Wade or Bosh, but does have Carmelo and Yao and Tony Parker. Maybe we could get Carmelo like we should have in 2003. Wouldn't that be ironic. But most likely, we won't be able to compete next summer for any big name guys, and will have to build through the draft, slowly but surely.

For Monroe's scouting report, you can click here, or here, or here, or here. But they all say basically the same thing:

-GREAT passer, considered the best passing big man in years
-High basketball IQ
-Hardworking, high motor, good teammate
-Great ball handler, handles the ball like a guard
-Sets good picks and understands the entire offense
-Good moves in the low post, especially the hook shot
-Works hard to defend the entry pass on defense
-Can take defenders off the dribble

-Lack of explosiveness, not a great jumper
-Not a great wingspan
-Below average free throw shooter
-Doesn't have natural rebounding ability
-"Makes an effort but not an impact" on defense
-Can't use his right hand (he's a lefty)

In short, he's basically a white guy in a black guy's body. Fans are going to expect a high-flying, rim-rocking star when what we're really getting is more of a smart, safe, fundamental team player. I watched every highlight video I could find, and didn't see him dunk the ball once.

Overall, I'd rate the pick a solid B. I'm excited and he'll certainly help the team, but he has considerable bust potential because of his passiveness on offense. It's rare to see NBA centers make an impact as passers. He could be the next Brad Miller, which would be okay but not for the #7 pick. He could also be the next Gasol, but only if he becomes more aggressive and puts on another 10 pounds and isn't afraid to be the best player on Detroit.


And now, I'd briefly like to say a few words about Detroit's second round pick, Terrico White:

Sophomore at Ole Miss.
6'5", shooting guard.
Shoot-first mentality, but not a great pure shooter.
Huge vertical, draws comparisons to Jason Richardson.
Shoots a lot of 3s, and misses most of them.
Not much of a passer, averaged just 1.5 assists a game.
Scouts questioned his "dedication to the game."
Crossover dribble and pull-up jumper are his two best moves.
Really good dunker.
His first name is "Terrico."
He shot 42% in college, so he'll probably miss way too many shots.
Overall grade for this pick - D+

Go pistons.

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