The Next Step

Joe D expects another jump for Greg Monroe next season

Off a promising rookie season, Greg Monroe played well enough in year two to be a candidate for Most Improved Player.
Dan Lippitt (NBAE/Getty)
Greg Monroe’s rookie season met every expectation Joe Dumars held for him. His second season, especially considering the challenges to it the lockout imposed, has been equally rewarding.

But Dumars is in lockstep with his head coach when he looks to Monroe’s future: There’s so much more ahead of him.

“He took the jump this year we really wanted to see him take,” Joe D told me this week. “He’s given us a post presence, a guy we can throw the ball into, a nightly double-double guy. That has been so good for us and so good for him.

“Now, the message to him after the last game will be, ‘There is more than one jump to take in your career. The first jump is from college to the pros. You’ve taken that jump. You’ve taken the second jump. Now it’s time for the third jump.”

Lawrence Frank, almost out of character for him, spoke similarly a few months ago when talking about Monroe: “The thing that’s so amazing is he has unbelievable upside and growth. He literally is just scratching it. There’s so much more to come. That’s the thing that’s so encouraging. He’s getting better, but he has great upside – he really does.”

“Lawrence and I have talked about this – I agree with Lawrence completely,” Dumars said. “There is more to get out of Greg.”

When the Pistons played at Miami recently, Joe D pulled him aside afterward and told him to take a cue from Chris Bosh. “I told him, you see when Bosh catches that ball and he’s open, he doesn’t hesitate. He just raises up and shoots it. Just do it.”

“There’s so much. Defensively, he can get stronger. We’re not going to allow him to leave here this summer and go home and think, you’ve made the jump, that’s it. We’ll push him to the next jump as well, and to do that he’s going to have to put in some work.”

There aren’t any shreds of doubt among Dumars, Frank or their staffs that Monroe won’t be motivated to execute whatever marching orders they give him. Last summer, when lockout restrictions prevented any contact between organization and player, Monroe split his time between Georgetown and his hometown, New Orleans, working with a former Georgetown assistant coach and a personal trainer.

This summer, he can spend time at the Pistons’ practice facility working with strength coach Arnie Kander and assistant coaches, including Roy Rogers, with whom Monroe has struck up a strong working relationship. A number of other Pistons players, including Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight, have indicated they plan to spend good chunks of their summers at their Auburn Hills home, as well.

“It will be interesting to see him come back,” Joe D said. “There are some things he can do that will help him take that jump – get your body in tip-top shape and work on your game. But we expect another jump from Greg.”

He had a strong rookie season and yet is among the top handful of contenders for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. If the Pistons are right – that a similar leap in year three is within Greg Monroe’s grasp – future off-season workouts should soon have to accommodate long playoff runs.