With guys like John Wall, Blake Griffin and DeMarcus Cousins getting handed big roles with their respective teams right off the bat and the chance to put up numbers, it’s very likely one of those three will take home the reward. But Monroe didn’t garner a single vote in the NBA’s annual poll of its rookie class. And check out some of the guys who did receive votes: late first round picks who may not play a ton like Eric Bledsoe and Jordan Crawford, a player who most feel Utah reached for in the lottery in Gordon Hayward and a guy who not only is stuck behind Steph Curry in Golden State, but wasn’t even drafted in Jeremy Lin.
Monroe, the seventh pick in the draft, a player who could get significant minutes in a thin frontcourt that got even thinner with Jonas Jerebko out for the season, has no chance at NBA Rookie of the Year? Really NBA rookies?
I realize that Monroe is up against long odds. But there are also some things working in his favor. First, check out his preseason numbers through six games:
- 9.0 points
- 42 percent shooting
- 5.2 rebounds
- 2.3 assists
- 1.5 steals
- 2.5 turnovers
Monroe is putting up those numbers in about 24ish minutes per game. They aren’t spectacular, but he does a good job of putting up stats in several categories, something not all big men are able to do. If he closes the preseason strong and earns let’s say 28 minutes or so per game during the regular season, which is feasible considering Chris Wilcox is no guarantee to get minutes, Ben Wallace is likely to see a lightened workload (at least initially) and Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva are both inconsistent, those numbers should climb a bit.
His shooting percentage, which has been really bad this preseason, is likely to go up. Even with his poor shooting and high number of turnovers this preseason, his two most notable deficiencies, Monroe has done a decent job filling up the stat sheet, which is the most important consideration in Rookie of the Year voting (just ask Tyreke Evans). If he’s able to get his numbers in the 13ish points/7ish rebounds/4ish assists range, shoot above 45 percent and continue to get over a steal a game, Monroe could certainly contend for the award.
Wall, Cousins and Griffin have all looked phenomenal this preseason. But Griffin lost his season to injury last year and Cousins has already been injured this preseason. Plenty can get in the way of talented guys winning the award. Monroe, based on his potential playing time and production so far, has a fair shot at being the first Piston to contend for the award since Grant Hill shared it with Jason Kidd in 1995.