Monroe and Drummond have logged only 91 minutes together so far, and you can kind of understand Lawrence Frank’s reluctance. Detroit’s offense, already in the league’s bottom 10, drops off by about five points per 100 possessions — a huge number — when the two bigs share the floor. But the defense improves by about the same amount — the equivalent of jumping from about 20th to fifth overall. Detroit is one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league, but when Monroe-Drummond (Mummond?) take the floor, they grab everything in sight, rebounding at a league-best rate on both ends.
Drummond is raw, and Detroit struggles to space the floor on offense as it is. Monroe is a minus defender, and the pair are in the very early stages of developing a defensive chemistry — of learning when to switch on the fly, how to time those rotations, and when to help elsewhere.
And Drummond plays with a restraint that makes it look as if he’s afraid to unleash his full athleticism, lest he accidentally injure teammates or fans in the first 10 rows. He’s a freak, and once he finds the right balance between freakishness and control, he could develop into a devastating player — and a perfect back-line complement to the ground-bound Monroe on defense. As it is, he’s still figuring out what to do with himself when Monroe works with the ball at the elbow or rolls to the rim on pick-and-rolls. He needs to learn how and when to cut off of Monroe so as not to clog things up; there’s a reason Frank uses Charlie Villanueva as a floor-spacing power forward to break things up.
Lowe makes some excellent points, and they’re worth digesting. But it’s important to remember that the Pistons’ big men are all limited, so any duo will have some shortcomings. Because Monroe and Drummond are so important to Detroit’s future – and because the present has become so irrelevant – I’d much rather they get more minutes to develop together.