ESPN’s David Thorpe wrote about the NBA’s rookie class, and pulled no punches when it came to Greg Monroe. He listed Monroe as the most disappointing rookie so far this season (note: Insider required to read the full story).
Thorpe mainly focused on Monroe’s lack of offense, particularly his inability to get his shot off:
Derrick Favors has yet to have a shot blocked in the NBA, inside the paint or on a jumper. Incredible. DeMarcus Cousins gets 15 percent of his jump shots swatted (not great), but only 7 percent of his paint shots blocked (pretty darn good).
Monroe has had 24 percent of his paint shots blocked and 25 percent of his shots outside the paint blocked. Gulp. Those are astoundingly bad numbers. And watching him on tape, it’s easy to see what his issues are — no explosion, little creativity or extension and no sense of urgency as a finisher.
He’s playing like he’s a 6-6 power forward (like Chuck Hayes, who also gets 24 percent of his paint shots blocked). He’s getting blocked by bigs in front of him because he’s not challenging them with any fakes or anything that will throw off their timing — and when he does fake, it’s in slow motion. And he’s getting blocked from behind by guards who can easily read his intentions. His problems are fixable, of course, but with the Pistons playing better basketball, his minutes may diminish.
There’s not much I can argue with there. Monroe is shooting 38 percent from the field and 28 percent from the free throw line. Offensively, his footwork has been bad, he’s often hesitant to go straight up strong when he catches the ball around the basket and even his hyped skill as a passer hasn’t materialized other than in brief flashes, as he has nearly a 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
But where Monroe has impressed is on the glass. He has one of the best rebound rates in the league, second on the team only to Ben Wallace. And as someone who was not necessarily a dominant rebounder in college, it is good to see that Monroe has more focus on that aspect of the game as a pro.
I don’t expect that Monroe is going to develop into a dominant back-to-the-basket player. That wasn’t his strength in college, and there’s no reason to expect that it will magically turn into a strength against bigger, stronger NBA post players. But I will say that I believe Monroe’s offensive struggles have been largely mental. He just hasn’t seemed confident in the minutes he’s played, either rushing shots or taking too much time to load up and get them off. He’s also not a horrible free throw shooter. His 68 percent in two years of college wasn’t good, but it wasn’t the train wreck he’s shown as a pro so far. As we frequently see in the NBA, mental blocks often turn average or better free throw shooters into poor ones (Nick Anderson, what?). Monroe isn’t a Shaq/Ben Wallace type at the line. That percentage will go up by the end of the year.
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