It’s not a secret to Detroit fans that Greg Monroe is having All-Star level production this season. All eyes have been on him, frankly, because it’s frightening for our eyes to wander elsewhere on the court.
But Pistons fans also knew Monroe was good last year, even though much of the rest of the basketball-watching world failed to notice. Monroe’s number this year, though, make it impossible to ignore him. Sports Illustrated’s Zack Lowe:
But you can’t ignore what a force Monroe has been on offense, and how he is getting those points and assists this season compared to last. Monroe is attempting twice as many mid-range jumpers as he did last season, and while you don’t want any big with his skills around the rim to get too jumper-happy (hi, Josh Smith), Monroe made just 12 shots from 10 feet and out all of last season, according to Hoopdata. He’s made nine such shots already this season. Any floor-spacing from a big man is helpful, and Monroe has already used the threat of his improved mid-range shot to build a face-up, off-the-dribble game. In torching the Bucks for 32 points and 16 boards on Thursday, Monroe gave Andrew Bogut fits with a face-up attack of jab steps, spin moves and sudden bursts to the basket.
Monroe isn’t explosive as a vertical leaper, but he has nimble feet, and he’s fast moving forward in the air even if he doesn’t jump high. He can squeeze through a small space and have that lefty layup on the glass before your bigger, more explosive center can quite reach the ball.
It’s great to see Monroe get some national recognition. His on-court production has been hugely overshadowed by the Pistons’ off-court discord and the unwatchability of several under-performing players. He’s simply one of the two or three best young big men in the game right now.
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