Detroit Pistons roundtable: Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko and Greg Monroe: frontline of the future?

How likely are Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko and Greg Monroe to develop into a contending-caliber starting frontline?

Dave Hogg, Associated Press freelancer

I’ll be honest – I have no idea, and I can’t imagine anyone else does, either. Jerebko is a huge question mark, because of the injury. He was making great progress last season, but I don’t know how much missing his second season is going to affect his career growth. Also, I’m not sure anyone knows Monroe’s ceiling at this point.

That said, I don’t think you would want to use those three as your starting frontline. I think the Pistons need to get another post player and take advantage of Daye and Jerebko’s versatility. One of
them is going to be your starting 3, but they can both play multiple positions, allowing you to go big or "small" by playing the other one at the 2 or the 4.

Dave Pemberton, The Oakland Press

Daye, Jerebko and Monroe have bright futures but I don’t see them as a starting frontline for a contender. Daye and Jerebko would likely be key reserves on a championship team. Guys that can come in and make an impact, whether it be scoring (Daye) or energy and hustle (Jerebko).

I can see Monroe as a starting power forward or center on a contending team. He just keeps getting better as the season goes on and if he can continue to make strides then the sky is the limit for him.

Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press

Greg Monroe is a stud. He’s Joe Dumars best draft pick in years and he has the potential to be a 15-10 guy or better every single night. There’s not one player on this roster who’s untouchable in the off-season, but Monroe is the closest thing to it based on his age, his size, his contract and his upside. He’s also about the only player on the roster who hasn’t once gotten into it with John Kuester even though he probably could have based on how Kuester has used him this season.

Jerebko is a question mark just like this entire franchise. Returning from an Achilles injury is dicey, just ask Kalin Lucas. So even this fall, we still might not see the full Jerebko until he gets games under his belt and completely trusts the injury. He’s an intriguing player based on how surprising he was last year as a rookie. He still strikes me as an ideal sixth man on a good team. But again, there is a lot more to be told.

Daye is a good spot-up shooter who can heat up like Reggie Miller. And that’s…about…it. Watching a 6-11 guy with his length camp out at the three point line is really frustrating, especially on a team where rebounding is at a premium. And his defense is dreadful. There were reports that he worked out a lot in the off-season. Maybe he just has a Miller/Tayshaun Prince body-type where that stuff doesn’t show up, because there was little evidence of that during the year. He’s averaging 3.5 rebounds a game. Totally unacceptable for a first round pick who’s as big as he is. He needs to decide what kind of a player he wants to be. If it’s just a spot up shooting big man, that’s fine. But the Pistons already have one of those in Charlie Villanueva. Daye has a long way to go.

Justin Rogers,

No. I think frontcourt defense is imperative to contending for championships, and while you’ll get a lot of hustle and heart from this group, I don’t see them forming a fundamentally sound unit that will be able to shut down opponents on a regular basis.  I know it doesn’t make any sense with the current roster, but I still think Daye has long-term potential as a shooting guard.  He has above-average ball-handling and passing skills, his length would cause mismatches on offense, and at least partially cover up for his lack of lateral quickness on defense, plus he would rarely have to worry about opposing players trying to exploit his slender frame and lack of strength down low.

Mike Payne, Detroit Bad Boys

If I’m cooking up a contender-caliber starting front line, Austin and Jonas are sadly not in my recipe.  Austin has shown as much concern as he has promise, but I’m hoping he pulls it together next season since he is currently our only small forward on contract for 2011-12.  As for Jonas, he was a great rookie last year but I’d like to know a) that his injury was just a fluke, b) that he can defend the 4 and c) he can create his own shot or make the occasional isolation play.  Will this injury have permanent after-effects?  It is possible, and I’m not sure I could confidently bet on Jonas until he’s put in another full season.  If we’re playing Jonas at the 4, his offense is okay but his defense is sub-par against power forwards.  Jonas had a lot of trouble guarding post-ups and pick-and-rolls, the type of stuff a power forward needs to be capable of doing.  He’s the type of player who is totally exciting to watch, but less-than-effective in production.  Would he start on a contender?  As it stands now, no.  If he continues to develop, perhaps as a 4th or 5th option.

Greg Monroe is another story.  If he can develop his defensive game over the next few seasons, he could possibly become a contender-caliber frontcourt piece.  He’d need to be paired with another star big man, but it is within the realm of possibility.  I’m confident Monroe’s defensive game will come along, and my confidence is backed-up statistically.  Greg needs to develop his man-on-man defense, but he’s surprisingly solid when defending plays as a whole, especially pick-and-rolls.  I said of Monroe earlier this season: "To properly defend the pick-and-roll, you need to read an offense and adjust accordingly, to anticipate where the ball is going to go and to beat your man to the basket. It shows an immense understanding in a rookie that is nothing short of remarkable."  It confirms what we’ve all seen this season– Greg plays with his head and he is constantly learning and improving.  The fact that he grasps an opponent’s offensive schemes suggests that he’ll have increasing value in a league where team defense is of trending importance.  This guy may not have highlight reel hops, but he understands pro basketball like he played pro basketball in a past life.

Brian Packey, Detroit Bad Boys

It’s hard to guess considering they haven’t played together at all. We still need to see how Jerebko responds from his injury and how (or if) he improves upon his rookie campaign, too. Daye and Monroe have played a few games worth of minutes together and the results have been mixed. Daye has a ways to go to solidify his game and Monroe does, too. It’s a really intriguing trio to think about, though, and I’m excited to see them play together at the same time, assuming the Pistons’ coach – whoever it may be – gives it a fair shake.

Kevin Sawyer, Detroit Bad Boys

No, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be part of one. I see Jerebko as more of a sixth man, filling in different slots of the bench, and I think Daye is going to need to man the three on a contender. What they’ll need is an athletic four who can block shots and rebound.

Fortunately, those players tend to be available, and undervalued. 6-11 guys who shoot 42 percent from 3, and double-double machines in the post are harder to find. There’s some missing pieces, but there’s a puzzle there worth solving.

Natalie Sitto,

It depends on the coaching staff and who they have around them, but in the right situation I think all three are quality players that could take the team to the next level if they had the chance.

Ben Gulker, Pistons by the Numbers

Contending for a championship frontcourt? Unlikely. Collectively, this group doesn’t have the size, strength, and athleticism to compete with the legitimate contending frontlines in the NBA.

But playoff-caliber? I think that’s very possible. I would certainly like to add a defensive-minded, shot-blocking center to the mix, but there’s no question this is a very skilled, versatile trio of players whose best years are ahead of them.

I was wrong about Greg Monroe, and I’m thrilled that I was. In 2011, Monroe has been fantastic, quietly grinding out one double-double after another. At only 20 years old, we might be looking at the foundation of the frontcourt for the next decade and a legitimate All Star performer. I would like to see more of what he can do from the high post as a facilitator, and I’d expect we’ll see more of that in the next year or two.

After a promising rookie season, Austin Daye has had a very inconsistent sophomore campaign. At times, he’s been brilliant, and at other times, invisible. Still, I’m optimistic. While I don’t think we’re looking at the next Kevin Durant, I do think that Daye could develop into a player similar to Tayshaun Prince — and that would mean very good things for the Pistons’ future.

While Jonas probably has the lowest ceiling of these three, he can play both forward positions and play them well. Plus, Jonas just plays like a Piston. He’s is an outstanding role player who does all the little things that teams need to do win. Here’s hoping he comes back fully healthy next season.

Steve Kays,

Contender-caliber as in contending for championships? Probably not. But contending as in making the playoffs as a 5th-6th seed in the East? Possibly. Depends who is lining up in the backcourt. But I could see it. While it’d be fun to see all three of those players start next season it probably won’t be conducive to winning a lot of games. 
Monroe will be the starter at either power forward or center for the foreseeable future as he’s having a tremendous rookie season and looks much more polished than the average 20 year old NBA player. Jerebko was a pleasant surprise as a rookie last year, but I can’t help but feel he’d be better off coming off the bench at either forward spot as an energy guy. Daye is the real question mark. He has so much potential with his length and shooting, but he still needs to gain some muscle and improve on the defensive end.
So yes, I could see Daye, Jerebko and Monroe developing into a playoff-contending frontline. But ideally the Pistons would get a dominant, defensive low-post presence to line up to Monroe and push Daye to the bench.

Jakob Eich, Bynumite Blog

Unlikely! As much as I like the games of all of the players, I don’t see them as a contending frontline. Monroe can definitely be a great center, but neither Jerebko nor Daye have shown me they are A-list players. Both player would make great rotation players on contenders, not cornerstones. How would they fare against frontlines like Lebron, Bosh, any center, and against Krstic, Garnett and Pierce, or against Noah, Boozer and Deng? I don’t see them becoming this kind of frontline. I hope they prove me wrong.

Dan Feldman, PistonPowered

Defensively, I don’t see how this group can collectively stack up. Greg Monroe might become a legitimate starter on a contender, and Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko’s both have a chance to reach that level, too. But I think they’re too nimble without a more imposing player to balance them.

In the short term, I think the trio’s versatility will create some interesting matchup problems for opponents next season. In the long run, the best-case scenario is probably all three players developing to the point where trading at least one of them nets a player who fits better with the remaining one or two.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered

That depends on who your backcourt is. That would be a very nice frontline if you’re starting, say, Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade at the guard spots. But if you’re starters are Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon? Well, I have my doubts that you’d be a contender with that group.

I like all three of those players. As I’ve written before, I’m less bullish on Daye than some other people seem to be, but that’s not really a knock on Daye. I think fans of every team tend to put too many expectations into their young prospects. If two of the Monroe-Daye-Jerebko group become above average starters in the league, then that’s fantastic. As it is, all three are no worse than good role players.

Monroe, clearly, is a future starter. Any big who is capable of being a double-double guy and shooting the percentage Monroe does while improving defensively is going to start and play big minutes for any team. There are legit questions with the other two. Daye is a great shooter. His shot is as natural and pretty as anyone’s in the game right now. But he also struggles against strong wings who defend him physically. Although his length is certainly an asset on defense, he’s not even an average defender right now, mostly a result of his lack of strength as well. Jerebko pre-injury would be a fine starter. He plays with energy, he impacts the game with movement, offensive and defensive rebounding and quickness and he was said to be improving offensively over the summer. The problem is Achilles injuries are not always kind to athletic, fast players like Jerebko. I hope he comes back at full strength, and if he does, I’d have no doubts about his ability to start for a contending team, but until we see him on a court, how good he’ll be post-injury is still a legitimate question.

As of right now, I think Monroe is the only player of the three who would start on a contender. The other two have the potential to get there, but Monroe is more advanced than both at the moment.


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