Instead, he finished a distant sixth.
The Pistons, once second only to the Spurs as a model NBA franchise, have become so forgotten, a waning Landry Fields and a one-dimensional Gary Neal finished ahead of Monroe. We can skip the reasonable debate about whether Monroe belonged ahead of John Wall and/or DeMarcus Cousins. I’d have to explain first why Monroe belongs ahead of Fields and Neal, and frankly, that seems like a waste of time. Fields and Neal don’t belong in the conversation.
If I wanted to discuss Monroe’s worthiness, I could tell you no rookie since Chris Webber in 1994 scored more points per game on a higher shooting percentage.
But at this point, none of that really matters. The voters already made their mistake, and nothing will change it. Hopefully, Monroe will make the All-Rookie team, but that would serve only as a consolation prize.
In every logical way, I shouldn’t care about this. Monroe wasn’t going to win the award, anyway. I figured he’d finish third, like he did in the TrueHoop Network awards. I know I should have laughed at the voting and moved on.
But I can’t. Monroe was our pearl in the garbage dump. The Pistons didn’t do much right this year, but Monroe’s play provided hope. Even the most pessimistic articles about the Pistons contained phrases like “besides Greg Monroe.”
Making a miserable season considerably less miserable isn’t and shouldn’t be a criterion for Rookie of the Year voting – and Monroe doesn’t need it to boost his candidacy – but it explains why I can’t let this go. He gave us better than we ever could have expected.
"MOTIVATION! And no i aint talkn bout the song!"
By all accounts, Monroe is a smart guy. I’m sure he knows he deserved to place higher. If he can twist that knowledge into motivation, good for him.
But I’m not convinced today will significantly alter the course of Monroe’s career. If he had finished second or 10th or anywhere between, I doubt it would’ve made a meaningful long-term impact, regardless.
So, like I said, I won’t rehash the Monroe-Wall-Cousins (-Fields-Neal) debate. There’s just no point, as much as I wish there was time to change voters’ minds. But I will show you these three charts about Monroe.
When the season began, Monroe couldn’t finish at the rim. But his field-goal percentage steadily improved.
When the season began, Monroe couldn’t convert from the charity stripe. But his free-throw percentage steadily improved.
When the season began, because of the above factors, Monroe didn’t score much. But his points per 36 minutes steadily improved.
A more impressive showing in the Rookie of the Year voting would’ve vindicated Monroe’s effort and given the Pistons a much-needed reason to celebrate. But good feeling doesn’t come free in the NBA. Monroe and the Pistons have a lot of work ahead to earn respect from a national group of decision makers.
But I’ll bet those charts will show more about Monroe’s future than today’s result will.