28. Greg Monroe
If you redid the 2010 draft, the top 10 probably goes like this: Paul George (picked 10th originally), John Wall (first), Monroe (seventh), Favors (third), Cousins (fifth), Sanders (15th), Hayward (ninth), Vasquez (28th), Bradley (19th) and Bledsoe (18th). Here’s the point: You never, EVER really know with the NBA draft. Anyway, I like Monroe, even if I’ve never had one Monroe-related conversation, e-mail exchange or even a text message with anyone I know. He’s forgettably excellent! He’s Greg Monroe.
Important note: If you gave 100 Detroit fans a choice between building around Monroe or Andre Drummond, all 100 would choose Drummond. And I totally get it: Fans always gravitate toward unlimited potential over known commodities. Let’s look at per-36-minute numbers of two frighteningly raw/athletic/explosive young big guys …
Shawn Kemp, Year 1 (age 20): 16.9 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 48% FG, 74% FT
Drummond, Year 1 (age 19): 13.8 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 61% FG, 37% FT
That’s a good sign for Drummond, because …
Kemp, Year 2: 30.1 MPG, 17.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 51% FG, 66% FT
The biggest difference between them other than Kemp having eight times as many kids? Kemp always made free throws (career: 74 percent), while Drummond has been an ongoing calamity on that front. If you’re a big guy who can’t make free throws, you better be named Shaq or Wilt. That’s my biggest concern with the Drummond era; we’ve seen dreadful free throw shooting derail too many talented guys. Monroe is just a safer bet. Stay tuned.
46. Andre Drummond
To recap: The 2012 lottery teams showed the appropriate amount of Drummond-related caution; he fell the appropriate number of spots (to no. 9); landed on the perfect team (Detroit); and quickly elevated himself beyond "massive project" status to "legitimate shot-blocking/rebounding/high-flying game-changer of the bench" status. His per-36 minute numbers: 13.8 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 60.8% FG … and 37.1% FT, but still! I can’t forget seeing him smiling sadly on draft night with one of those beaten-down looks on his face, like he was thinking, It’s OK, I’m gonna try hard in the NBA, I’m not gonna let you down, I’m a good guy, I swear! Hard not to root for him after that. And by the way? That Drummond-Monroe foundation is pretty nice, right? I fully support any NBA team that builds around players named after iconic sitcom characters from my childhood.
Why Andre Drummond ranks No. 1
Andre Drummond has the greatest potential among all Pistons – maybe even the greatest potential among all NBA players – and he’s already Detroit’s second-best player.
The biggest reason Drummond claims the top spot ahead of Greg Monroe, though, is his contract. Unlike Monroe, who’s eligible for an extension this summer, Drummond will be on rookie-scale contract for the next three years. Drummond making $3,272,091 in 2015-16? Yes, please.
Drummond’s back injury gave me some pause about giving him the top spot, but a single injury isn’t enough to downgrade Drummond. It’s definitely a red flag, though. Hopefully, injuries won’t derail what seems like a very promising career.
Why Greg Monroe ranks No. 2
Greg Monroe is the Pistons’ best player. He’s gotten better each season, and he’s seemed to be on the verge of an All-Star berth since last year. He’s only 22 and has plenty of room to get better, especially defensively.
Monroe is the type of hard-working, self-motivated and no-nonsense players most teams would love to begin a rebuild with.
So why does he rank only No. 2?
Monroe will be eligible to sign a contract extension this summer, and judging by his closest peer – Roy Hibbert – Monroe is more likely than not to get a max contract. How valuable will Monroe remain at that price? If I were the Pistons, I’d be willing to pay him max money, but I’d do it knowing there’s a real risk Monroe becomes overpaid.