If there is anyone covering basketball today that understands how the game is played, it’s Grantland’s Zach Lowe.
There is a reason NBA fans flock to his work. He gets the nuances of the game.
Today, Lowe focused on the evolution of the big man and how it has NBA executives confused about the value of players like Greg Monroe.
The evolving market for big men makes the free agency of Greg Monroe so interesting. Monroe doesn’t quite fit the archetype, since he has played significant minutes at center and managed well in that time. But he’s ground-bound on defense, and his midrange jumper has fallen well behind Griffin’s. He has a strong post game and smart passing vision, so he has two-thirds of the trifecta of skills Griffin uses to make up for his limitations; Monroe is missing only the pick-and-roll explosion, something Andre Drummond brings in spades.
But that missing element matters. Monroe is a tricky player around which to build. An ideal roster would surround him with at least one big man who can both shoot from range and protect the basket, and there are maybe a half-dozen guys who can do both of those things at an elite level. They are expensive and very hard to get.
Monroe also needs the ball to maximize the things he does well. He is like a younger and lesser Al Jefferson — not as good a post player, and not quite as bulky and physical battling opposing centers down low. But Jefferson has been a part of some very good offensive teams, and he appears to have found a healthy environment on both sides of the floor in Charlotte.
Our own Brady Fredericksen wrote about Monroe’s limitations last week. He touched on how Monroe’s lack of a perimeter game has also factored in a lack of interest from teams around the league to sign an offer sheet.
Monroe is the kind of player who could play in any era. He’s a good rebounder and one of the few big men in the NBA who still seem to enjoy working exclusively out of the post. He has limitations athletically and defensively, but he’s a talented player who would be more well thought of if he hadn’t been engulfed in Detroit’s mess.
But the NBA game evolves with every era, and eras come at you quick. As the years have gone on, the game has sped up and the big players have become more perimeter oriented. When Miami really got themselves going with LeBron James playing power forward a few years ago, the rest of the league followed.
When teams started employing power forwards who could stretch the floor all the way to the 3-point line, the rest of the league began to follow suit.
Unfortunately for Monroe, he fits neither of those descriptions — and that’s the issue.
Combine those factors with the simple fact that Detroit is going to want equal value for Monroe in any type of sign and trade, and it becomes clear why the market for Monroe has reportedly been dwindled down to the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns.
And those teams seem to be moving on from the Greg Monroe sweepstakes.
Stan Van Gundy wanted to test the market and see what the value was for his secondary big man.
He is quickly finding out that the best value he can find for Greg Monroe is alongside Andre Drummond in the starting lineup next year.
What are your thoughts? Has the evolution of the big man affected the market for Greg Monroe?