Kyrie Irving continue his ascension as the NBA’s newest superstar, Anthony Davis showing why he was the No. 1 pick last year and Dion Waiters shooting a lot, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were both effective in the USA Basketball Blue-White scrimmage Thursday.
Monroe finished with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting with six rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes as a starter for the blue team. But that type of production is nothing new — we know Monroe can score efficiently, rebound and pass. It was his defense that made an impression. Monroe had a steal, forced a turnover and blocked a shot in the game. It definitely helped that he was matched up against the offensively awkward DeAndre Jordan, but Monroe looked more comfortable defensively. Check out the great help defense on a Jrue Holiday drive that resulted in a blocked shot. Those are the types of plays Monroe has routinely been late rotating on in his career so far.
It was just an exhibition game, but it’s certainly worth noting and being cautiously optimistic about. Monroe has added to his game each of his three seasons — he’s obviously still improving and works hard in the offseason. If he put as much work into his defense this offseason as he has into his offense in the past, this season has the potential to be really exciting. Monroe was already a near All-Star with just his offensive production. His quick hands and ability to get steals are already an asset, and if he becomes even average defensively with the talent around him, the Pistons will be one of the league’s best defenses.
Drummond, meanwhile, filled up the stat sheet in limited minutes (after all, he has a lot of experience with that sort of thing). He scored 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting with six rebounds and a block in just nine minutes for the white team. Foul trouble did impact his minutes though — he picked up four in those nine minutes.
Whether Drummond and/or Monroe make the final roster or not, it’s great to see both getting a chance to show their immense potential on a national stage.