A New Frontier

Monroe’s off-season focus starts with improved shooting stroke

Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe has his work cut out for him this summer to improve his play as starting power forward.
Dan Lippitt/NBAE/Getty Images
Greg Monroe doesn’t know who’ll be filling out the lineup card next season, but he’s fairly certain whoever it is will pencil him in next to Andre Drummond at center.

Back in the gym to get in some weight-lifting under Arnie Kander’s supervision on Tuesday, less than a week after his third season wrapped up, Monroe will prepare this off-season to come back with a game more suited to power forward than center.

He’ll split his summer similarly to a year ago – back home in Louisiana for a month, then off to Georgetown for a summer session in the classroom with plenty of ex-Hoyas available to partner up in the gym, then set up shop in Auburn Hills alongside a core of teammates in the weeks leading up to the start of training camp.

His training won’t be so much different as he prepares for his first season as a power forward primarily. Even last summer, he focused his New Orleans workouts on a cross-training regimen that incorporated movements helpful to a transition to playing farther from the basket.

But on the court, yeah, it’ll be a little different focus this time around.

“A lot more shooting, a little more ballhandling, just being comfortable being a little bit further off the block,” he said. “I’ll be off the block more, although I can’t really say. …” And here he smiled, acknowledging the uncertainty of the system Lawrence Frank’s successor might implement.

But it’s a fair assumption that in the course of job interviews, Joe Dumars is going to spend a considerable amount of time quizzing candidates on their vision for a successful Monroe-Drummond pairing.

“I can assume, just because of the natural spacing, that I’ll be a little further from the basket a little more,” he said. “So just to make sure I’m comfortable there and to make sure I have confidence being further from the basket.”

Monroe took thousands of jump shots last summer, simulating game conditions as much as possible. But he admits he didn’t let those shots fly as freely as he might have once the season rolled around. The solution: thousands more this summer until it becomes second nature.

“I could definitely say I hesitated a lot this year,” he said. “That’s something I have to get out of. I’m very confident in making that shot. I worked on it a whole lot. I just have to shoot it. That’s how it is. The whole season, teammates, coaches – everybody – was just telling me to shoot it.”

So shooting, more than anything, tops his summer to-do list. Monroe’s multifaceted skill set and team-first mind-set convinced management he could play with a wide variety of frontcourt partners. But that also gives him a long list of off-season aspects of his game to fine tune.

“It will be more shooting than anything,” he said. “I’ll have the ball in different areas, but as far as ballhandling, it’s not like I’ll be bringing the ball up. At the top of the list, if I had to make a list, shooting would definitely be a big part of it. It just opens up everything for myself and the rest of the offense.”

Who designs that offense intrigues Monroe at least as much as it does Pistons fans.

“Of course I’ll be interested” in the search, he said. “My mind-set right now is about us moving forward and obviously the coach is going to be a huge part of that. I’m definitely interested to see who it is. Like I’ve always said when they’re making decisions, I trust them. I know they’re going to do what’s in the best interests of this organization. I’m not worried about who it’s going to be, but I’m looking forward to it. I want to talk to them, to know who we’re moving forward with and preparing to be better next season.”

I’ll have more over the next few days with Monroe and his thoughts on playing with Drummond after getting 10 games to start next to him at season’s end.