There are many legitimate criticisms of Frank this season, but this is not one of them. Monroe is not some raw young prospect. He’s in his third season overall and for two of those, he’s undoubtedly been Detroit’s best player (I would also argue he was their best player as a rookie, although his role wasn’t as large as it was last season or this season). Teams simply don’t bench their best player for having a bad game because there’s always a chance your best player will get it together and make plays for you that no one else on your team can make. Exhibit A in this theory was O.J. Mayo last night. Mayo didn’t play well in the first half. But he’s been the Mavericks’ best player this season, Rick Carlisle stuck with him despite his first half struggles and Mayo, with the help of some awful Pistons perimeter defense, got it going in the third quarter and keyed the run that helped the Mavs take control of the game.
Anyway, that didn’t happen for Monroe, and that’s OK. Good players are entitled to occasional off-games. And to Monroe’s credit, he took responsibility after the game. Via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:
“I gotta convert those, there are no excuses,” Monroe said. “My teammates played too hard tonight for me not to convert those. Makeable shots. Not converting those shots is unacceptable.”
Monroe is different than the other young players on Detroit’s roster because he’s already established himself as a very good, consistent, productive NBA player. He deserves the opportunity to play through his struggles that Frank gave him last night. That was the right call be Frank and I honestly don’t understand how anyone can question it.