When you find out that the player who did it was one of the most complete players to ever wear Pistons blue, Grant Hill, it puts things in perspective for Greg and allows the rest of us to maybe really take a closer look at how talented and how tough-minded and determined Greg Monroe really is when he steps on the court.
He‘s more special than I think anybody around the league understands. The coaches are the ones who vote for the reserves for the All-Star game and I think it would be a major upset if next year they don’t vote Greg for one of those reserve spots. They see him night in and night out and have to game plan against him. Maybe the fact he’ll have to spend most of the rest of the season out there as the Pistons’ lone true big man because of Andre Drummond’s back injury will jack up his numbers even a little bit more.
It’s been fun watching Greg’s game take off. We knew when he first came here that he had a great feel for the game, was able to see the floor and see his teammates like few big men, let alone young big men. And he still has that. There’s always the possibility if you run too many people at him that he’s going to find the open man, but beyond that he’s not a one- or two-move guy at this point. He’s able to eat up space between the high post – even the foul line extended – and the basket in a hurry, spin either way and shoot with either hand and he has so much momentum carrying him to the basket that if somehow the shot doesn’t go, he’s going to follow it. He’s become a real force on the offensive glass.
That’s hard work. But that’s what Greg Monroe does. He’s probably never going to get oohs and ahhs, especially in other people’s buildings, but that doesn’t mean he’s not becoming an elite basketball player. We’re very, very lucky to have him in Detroit. You can build a winning team around Greg Monroe. I would imagine Joe Dumars gets calls about Greg all the time and I’m sure his answer is “unavailable.”
We’ve seen enough already this year of Greg and Andre Drummond on the court together to paint a pretty rosy picture for the Pistons in the future in the paint. There are not too many times you go up against a team that has big men who do as much around the basket as Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They’ll get better together the more they play together. The injury to Andre certainly has slowed down that process, but I think the coaches and Joe D have seen enough to show them that with those two guys on the court you can play against anybody’s bigs in the league and often dominate – at the very least, hold your own.
It’s too bad Andre suffered the injury, but we’ll see even more from Greg until Andre comes back. He’ll have the same kind of responsibilities he had last year before Andre got here. There won’t be that big man boost off the bench – although Slava Kravtsov showed in the big fourth-quarter comeback against Washington that he, at the very least, can give the Pistons an intimidating presence in the paint defensively – but we’ve seen what Andre can do. He’s exciting, he’s powerful, he’s enthusiastic and he’s only going to get better.
I’m sure that gives Greg a lift, to know that someday, when Andre really comes into his own and Greg is already at the top of his game, these guys could dominate together.
Then you have Jose Calderon’s influence. To get Jose here has been good for everybody’s game. He will find you in the right spot and get you a good shot. Frankly, this is only going to get better when he really and truly knows everything he needs to know about all his teammates. But it seems like with Greg Monroe, that chemistry is already there.
Greg has to love playing with him. That ball is on the money, it’s catchable and it leads him to more often than not making easy power moves around the basket. It helps Greg do what he does best. This Jose Calderon has been a point guard’s point guard for years. He’s almost at the perfect age. He will make you better and it’s clear he already has made his teammates better. On most nights, the Pistons have played very well since he’s come here. It’s going to be a pleasure for the final two months of the season to watch Jose and Greg continue to build that chemistry into something special.