Monroe piling up double-doubles at NBA star pace
Greg Monroe made the Rookie-Soph Challenge during All-Star weekend and he’s become a heavy favorite to land a berth on the NBA’s All-Rookie first team. But if racking up double-doubles is a measuring stick of stardom, he’s not far removed from even loftier ambitions.
Monroe’s 14 points and 12 boards against Miami on Wednesday night was the rookie’s 17th double-double since Jan. 1, or roughly the same time he joined the starting lineup. Only 10 NBA players have more since and the list includes Dwight Howard, Zach Randolph, Blake Griffin, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.
Monroe’s 17 double-doubles puts him ahead of players like Chris Paul, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
In the 37 games since Monroe recorded his first career double-double – a 14-point, 11-rebound performance against the Lakers on Jan. 4 – he is nearly averaging a double-double: 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds. He’s also shooting .599 over that span.
“I almost expect it now,” John Kuester said after Thursday’s practice. “He’s one of our hardest workers in practice and that hard work has paid off.”
Monroe continues to introduce new elements of play to his game, lately becoming more patient when he gets the ball either in the low post or farther from the basket. In the third quarter against the Heat, he took the ball from the deep wing to the basket, dribbling with either hand along the way, and forcing a foul from Erick Dampier with a spin move not unlike the kind Bosh has used to great effect. In the past two games, Monroe has attempted 14 free throws.
“No question, he is more comfortable with the ball, whether it be on the perimeter or the elbow or in the post,” Kuester said. “He can put the ball on the floor, he’s very crafty going to the basket and he’s now starting to draw some fouls.”
So add comfort with the basketball and taking it to the rim to a long list of steps Monroe has taken since the early days of his rookie season, when he had difficulty cracking the rotation. He first showed signs of becoming a premier rebounder, then quick hands that have moved him to No. 1 on the Pistons in steals (with 76, he’s 10 ahead of Rodney Stuckey), and then a knack for finding open spots near the baskets for teammates to reach him with passes.
“He’s going to have to expand his game – his ability to score in the low post and have a go-to move,” Kuester said. “He’s somebody who is going to have to knock down that 15- to 17-foot shot.”
Where will that take him?
Maybe to the top of that double-double list, where the company would include Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph.
|NBA players with the most
double-doubles since Jan. 1
|1. Dwight Howard, Orlando||36|
|2. Kevin Love, Minnesota||36|
|3. Zach Randolph, Memphis||30|
|4. Blake Griffin, LAC||29|
|5. Steve Nash, Phoenix||24|
|6. David Lee, Golden State||20|
|7. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland||18|
|8. Pau Gasol, LAL||18|
|9. Kris Humphries, NJ||18|
|10. Al Jefferson, Utah||18|
|11. *Greg Monroe, Detroit||17|
|* (tied with 4 others)|