Star in the Making

Greg Monroe’s rapid progress bodes well for Pistons future

Greg Monore's game has taken remarkable strides since his rookie year.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
If you’re a Pistons fan old enough to remember the great Bad Boys and their two NBA championships, or if you’re a little younger and only remember the Goin’ to Work Pistons who won the title in 2004, then it’s probably tough to not be disappointed when the team starts out 3-11, which is where the Pistons are so far this season.

But you don’t have to look too far or too hard to be excited about the future when you have a young player like Greg Monroe showing the truly remarkable progress he’s made so far, not only from the start to the end of his rookie season but from last season to this one, as well.

Greg is right now, in my opinion, already a standout and bordering on a young star. He’s made such amazing strides, it seems like every week, every month, but if you really look at it, it’s almost every game. There was a blip on the radar against the Rockets in Houston, but they have great size and they see the scouting reports. They did their best to contain him and reduce his touches and his shots. It did make a great difference, but we will certainly find a way to get him as many touches and shots as he needs. I know that, and when he gets them, he’s going to be as productive as any young big man in the league.

When I really think about it, I’m not sure I can remember anyone who stepped it up that much between year one and year two like Greg has. I’ve been around quite a while, so I guess that’s saying something. What’s happened with Greg, I believe, is that he’s like a sponge. This is a very bright guy who has great basketball instincts, but beyond that his basketball IQ is right up there. He’ll learn more about how to get things done in this league and be better in March than he is now in January and I think we can expect even bigger and better things from him next year.

You don’t want to put too much pressure on him, of course. He understands how important he is to this team because he has that kind of understanding of his role and of this game. He will continue to make progress. I think last year he might have started slowly, but he took advantage of every time he got a chance to touch the basketball, every time he had minutes on the floor. The Pistons did not go to him or go through him last year – certainly not early in the season. In fact, his minutes were scarce early. Later on, he found out how to get to the basketball and make things happen on put-backs and other ways and began to get more touches as the season wore on.

This year, we’ve made a concerted effort to get him the basketball and it’s paid huge dividends. As my partner, Gregory Kelser calls him, he’s the go-through guy, but I also think he’s a go-to guy. Greg is absolutely correct, but he is also our go-to guy, which makes him a standout already and soon to be a star.

The Pistons have had some great big men, players with truly unique skills over the years. I see a little bit of Bob Lanier in Greg Monroe. He doesn’t quite have Bob’s great size and I don’t think there’s ever been a big man who has had the same touch as the Dobber had. If he doesn’t have quite the same touch, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a nice touch. Bob Lanier was a great passer and, frankly, so is Greg. I think if you called Greg Monroe a good passer or a very good passer, you might be shortchanging him. We’ve seen some great passes from Greg Monroe on the court and we’ll see more. He’s the closest thing to Bob Lanier that we’ve had since the great Hall of Famer played center in the Motor City.

The fact Greg played two years in college was an intelligent move on his part. You can really learn and polish your game in college, especially if you’re playing for a top-notch program like Georgetown against great competition. I think John Thompson III is a heck of a coach and it was probably good for Greg to be there two years. He was ready to play in the NBA. He was no longer a project when he got here. Watching his progress has been a joy over the last year and change. I can’t wait to see where Greg Monroe can help take the Pistons over the coming seasons.