No one knows for sure when Andre Drummond and Slava Kravtsov will earn the trust of Lawrence Frank and push their way into the Pistons’ rotation. But the Pistons are preparing for any contingency, which means Greg Monroe’s summer – which he enthusiastically calls “a very productive summer for me” – has been at least partially devoted to preparing to play power forward in case the two 7-footers lock up available minutes at center.
“They basically said I need to be prepared to play power forward,” Monroe told me after a lengthy workout Monday at the team’s practice facility. “They’re looking for at least one of those guys to be ready, so I’ve started to prepare myself to be ready to play the four. We’ve been working on stuff to have me in those positions.”
Monroe feels the transition would be relatively seamless, especially on the offensive end.
“It’s very OK with me,” he said. “With us there’s not that much of a difference, anyway. I’m not really worried about the transition. I’ve been playing power forward and center all my life, so I’m comfortable with playing either. I’m comfortable with the ball in the mid-post and at the elbow. Defensively, maybe that would be the only thing – guarding different types of players. I would have to scout more, learn the guys’ tendencies. It would be different footwork, moving your feet more.
“But I’m ready for the challenge. Like I’ve always said, I’m here to do whatever my team needs me to do. Defense is the staple of this organization. It’s what coach L is trying to do, so I’m just here to work as hard as I can to get better at that, too.”
Monroe’s had a whirlwind of an off-season. First stop was back home in Louisiana, where he works under the direction of a personal trainer who has some of Arnie Kander’s flair for originality. Monroe does lots of cross-training activities there, starting outside – flipping tires and doing agility drills on the football field.
He spent two weeks in Los Angeles working out with Kevin Love. There the focus was different types of shots, including shooting on the move and shots from the elbows and mid-post area that will surely be a part of his repertoire at power forward.
Next stop was Orlando, where Monroe participated in six practices before the Pistons played five games in five days in Summer League, a week he felt was a tremendous experience for everyone.
“That was definitely a good week,” he said. “Everybody that was there and was part of Summer League practices definitely got better. The practices were great. Guys were into it. The coaches did a good job of instruction. That was a really good week for everybody.”
After Orlando, Monroe headed to Georgetown where he worked out with former Hoya star and NBA veteran Othella Harrington on post footwork and expanding his post shot inventory.
Last week, Monroe was in Las Vegas at longtime NBA assistant coach Tim Grgurich’s camp, which has helped speed the progress of scores of young players over the past decade. Pistons assistant Roy Rogers was among the many NBA assistant coaches who were there leading drill work. Most teams had two to three young players participate – Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond represented the Pistons – and the night session games were highly competitive.
“It was really good getting up and down,” he said. “We played a lot of games at night. It was really good just to play five on five, especially. It’s hard to find a run like that in the summertime with all pros. It was a really good experience.”
Now Monroe is back in Auburn Hills, where he plans to stay for the rest of the summer until training camp opens in October. He and Drummond were in the gym Monday working out with Rogers.
We’ll have more later this week from Monroe, including his take on Drummond and some of the other young Pistons players.