Rave Rookie Review

Monroe’s four straight double-doubles a glimpse at his potential
Greg Monroe’s four straight double-doubles have the rest of the NBA sitting up and taking notice, but we’ve seen signs that this Pistons rookie had it in him now for a while. He didn’t play in his first two games, but I know the coaches and the front office always thought that he’d be a big part of the puzzle before this season got too far along and now he’s proving them right.

The amazing thing about Greg Monroe is he’s such a good student. He’s so coachable. He’s like a kid in college taking a mid-term at this point. If you’re a parent, you’d hope he’d have a B by mid-term, but he’s at A-minus already. It’s fun to watch him learn how to do what he does best against the greatest athletes in the world.

When I saw him in college, I saw him do some great things but he was – as you would expect – usually the tallest guys out there and didn’t have to be as creative as he’s had to be to make things happen at this level with the size and the agility and the athleticism we have in the NBA.

You could see the intelligence was there, the skills were there and I love the fact that Joe D got him at pick seven. He may turn out to be – even though that’s a high lottery pick – even better than a No. 7 pick. Four straight double-doubles – and they’ve been strong ones. They haven’t been accidental double-doubles. He’s worked for every rebound. He’s getting better at the free-throw line, he’s terrific on run-outs and his feel for the game allows him to make great back-door cuts.

When you’ve got people like Tracy McGrady finding you, it makes it look like those are easy points – but they aren’t easy. You have to make the cut at the right time and you’ve got to catch a bullet and get it up there before one of the NBA’s best comes to try to block the shot or knock it away from you before you can get it up.

You are a bona fide NBA player if you get double-doubles with some regularity. And I’d say four in a row is better than some regularity. But let’s be conservative right now and say he’s a bona fide NBA player, yet the Pistons don’t run much for him, if anything, and he still hasn’t quite learned how to deal with the officiating. When he can stay out of foul trouble and the coaches run more plays for him – and that’ll happen, as their confidence in him continues to increase – I don’t think 15 to 18 points and 10 rebounds a night is out of the question. And who knows? The guy has been such a great student and he has the ability – maybe he’ll even get better than that. He’s one guy that I really look forward to following over the next few years.

When I think about players I’ve seen in my 30-plus years as the voice of the Pistons who compare to Greg, I do see a little of the two names I’ve heard, Brad Miller and Arvydas Sabonis. Greg’s made some fine passes so far, but he’s got more than just a few assists per game in him. Once he’s established at the high post and plays are run to take advantage of his ability to see the court and deliver the ball, he could be an even tougher cover.

He can not only get shots for himself and continue to rebound, but he’ll get easy shots for other people. Brad Miller is still playing in this league and making a nice paycheck umpteen years later. It’s not all because he rebounds and scores. At least a third of his value is his ability to pass the basketball as a big man. We have that to look forward to from Greg Monroe. We know he has that in him. We’ve even seen flashes of it at this level.

On the other end, I see a battler defensively. He keeps his composure and really doesn’t give an inch. I think some of that comes from his Georgetown background and playing in a tough conference like the Big East, but some of that is just Greg Monroe. I see him as a guy who is even going to get better defensively. You have to play against these guys a few times to really understand what works against them. Sure, there are certain things fundamentally you have to do on the defensive end, but every guy is a different case study.

This guy is a smart player. He’ll learn his lessons and he won’t forget them. When we’re only talking January of his rookie season and he’s able to make plays defensively and force turnovers that lead to fast-break hoops for his team, I look for a lot more of those in his future.

Greg Monroe is going to be a fun player to watch develop over the rest of this season and beyond. The Pistons got a keeper in the 2010 draft in this guy.