Rather than chastising Monroe for not putting in proper effort defensively, isn’t it possible that he’s playing hard, but just lacks the awareness and instincts required for great defense?
Expecting Monroe or any player to make up for a skillset they don’t possess by just trying harder isn’t necessarily fair, particularly for a player like Monroe who, by all accounts, works very hard at his game.
Monroe is far from useless defensively. Although his feet aren’t as quick as other bigs in the league, he does have quick hands and is proficient at stripping the ball from opposing players as they go up for shots (something Karl Malone was the king of). Monroe also averages 1.2 steals per game for his career and 1.3 per game this season, very good for a big man. This season, the only bigs who get more steals per game than Monroe are DeMarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin, Joakim Noah and LeBron James (depending on whether you consider him a power forward or small forward at this point).
The solution to Monroe’s defensive woes is an easy one — pairing him with a healthy Andre Drummond for big minutes next season.
Andre Drummond has made far more useless defensive players — Charlie Villanueva, Will Bynum and Austin Daye — seem competent when playing with them this season. He’ll do wonders for Greg Monroe‘s defense next season. Nothing to worry about here.