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Can Greg Monroe help the Detroit Pistons run a Sacramento Kings-like offense?

I didn’t post a full recap on the Pistons’ Summer League finale, simply because there was only one thing in the game worth writing about.

After a few so-so performances that led to many questioning his energy level, Greg Monroe showed the skillset that made him a lottery pick in Detroit’s loss to New York Friday. Monroe had 27 points and 12 14 rebounds. While he only finished with 2 assists, he would’ve had at least three more — he made the right pass to teammates who just failed to convert on open shots. When he’s playing with the regular season roster, that won’t be a concern.

But I didn’t come away from Friday’s game thinking about the Summer League. I came away thinking hard about how Greg Monroe fits with the regular season roster (barring a trade), and at the risk of pissing off Chris Webber (hey C-Webb … at least Monroe is better than Darko), I am envisioning a future Pistons lineup that resembles what the early 2000s Sacramento Kings did.

If you remember those Kings teams, they operated with a point guard in name only. Mike Bibby’s job was to dribble the ball up-court and make a quick decision — shoot himself, get it to the high post (to Webber, Vlade Divac or later, Brad Miller) or hit one of the team’s shooters (Peja Stojakovic, Hedo Turkoglu, et. al.). The majority of the Kings’ offense was run through the post, thanks to the luxury of having big men who could face up, see the floor and generally make good decisions.

Bibby didn’t dominate the ball. He’s not what anyone would call an elite ball-handler. He was a very good player and a great clutch shooter.

And when you look at what he did for the Kings, there’s a guy on the Pistons who has a pretty similar skillset: Ben Gordon. Now, Bibby probably handles and passes better than Gordon, Gordon’s a better scorer than Bibby. But Gordon dribbles well enough to advance the ball upcourt. Perhaps giving him a similar assignment — advance the ball, quickly shoot or make a pass that gets the team into its offense — would break him of the bad habit he has of dribbling the air out of the ball. After Gordon advances the ball and gets it where it needs to go, he becomes important for spacing, just like Bibby was for Sacramento.

This moves Stuckey over to the off-guard spot. Not that he can’t bring the ball up or get the Pistons into their offense if necessary, but Gordon’s shooting ability makes him a guy the opposing defense would have to find right away because of the threat of the quick shot. Stuckey actually moves very well without the ball, but we just haven’t seen him much without the ball in his hands, so he hasn’t fully displayed it. Playing him with Gordon, but switching their responsibilities, allows Stuckey to focus on scoring. Defensively, he’d take the opposing team’s best guard, similar to how the Kings used Doug Christie.

The final member of that Kings lineup was Peja Stojakovic, a tall shooter who was simply on the court to score. Although in-his-prime Peja was rightfully known for this three-point stroke, before he was beset by injuries, he could actually score in a variety of ways. The Pistons just so happen to have a lanky guy with a nice stroke on their roster in Austin Daye, and as he showed this summer, Daye has a couple of counter-moves in his arsenal and is developing a decent mid-range game.

Now, of course, my way-too-generous take on the Pistons lineup doesn’t take into consideration a few big factors: for the time being, Daye and Gordon are behind Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, so if Monroe starts, he probably won’t play many minutes with Daye or Gordon. Secondly, John Kuester doesn’t seem particularly interested in changing the offensive system, ill-fitting personnel be damned. Third, the Kings had two great passing big men in Webber/Divac. The Pistons have a rookie who might be one.

But watching Monroe pick apart the Knicks, after watching a full season a year ago with several skilled players not living up to their potential, was another reminder that the Pistons actually have the personnel to be an entertaining offensive team. It’s obviously a stretch to compare them to a great up-tempo team like the Kings, but I think most fans would agree that trying a different offensive philosophy would be preferable to watching another season filled with constant isos, the team scoring in the 80s most nights and no ball movement or spacing.

Here were a couple other takes on Monroe’s strong game:

Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: “No big man in the 2010 draft class has a more aesthetically pleasing offensive repertoire, something that was captured on a single play in the first half when he delivered a no-look interior pass in the paint, through traffic, to his baseline cutter. When the ball clanked out, Monroe — a prolific collegiate rebounder — grabbed it, then muscled his way to the rim through a scrum of Knick defenders for a basket-and-one. It was an assertive possession for a guy sometimes unfairly tagged with the soft label.”

Matt Watson, FanHouse: “Despite standing an inch shy of seven-feet, Monroe is known to be more of a finesse big man than a bruiser, but his offensive talents should complement Ben Wallace’s defense-first mentality on Detroit’s front line — assuming they share the court together. Wallace, who signed a two-year contract to remain with the Pistons earlier this summer, started 67 of his 69 games last season at center. That just so happens to be Monroe’s natural position, as well, although he certainly has the versatility to slide to power forward. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.”

10 Comments

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Detroit Pistons Buzz and PistonPowered Feed, Patrick Hayes. Patrick Hayes said: The future #Pistons as the early 2000s #sacramentokings http://tinyurl.com/2eswr7k #nba [...]

  • Jul 18, 20104:25 am
    by Tom Y.

    Reply

    14 rebounds, not 12…

  • Jul 18, 20107:41 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    I think you will see Monroe as a center on defense but a power forward on offense

  • Jul 18, 20107:56 am
    by max

    Reply

    I think it would be great to try a more fluid offense.And it is not like the Kings were not successful.If not some decisions by refs and complete blackouts in the playoffs they could have won the ‘ship.The problem is,our ,,Chris Webber/Vlade Divac/Brad Miller” is still a rookie and we don’t know if he even comes near to the aforementioned players.But I hope Kuester gives it a try.

  • Jul 18, 20101:22 pm
    by John

    Reply

     To be honest I just hope this Roster stays Healthy the whole season and maybe throew the playoffs something that didnt happen last year.

  • Jul 18, 20107:01 pm
    by Tarbaby

    Reply

    patrick, you’re wasting your time dreaming about this as long as rip’s in the picture. it’s going to be embarrassing watching kuester try to scrounge for spot minutes for gordon, daye and basically anyone else who represents the future of this team. nothing worth getting excited about if this roster stays intact.
    john, playoffs?? PLAYOFFS??? glad to see no matter how imbalanced and sorry the roster is, some people’s optimism never dies. my hope is that this season finally kills the last shreds of optimism remaining, because this team’s absolute  ceiling is an 8 seed, and that’s if everything goes perfectly.
    i don’t even feel bad for the dumar zombies out there anymore. you want him, you got him, deal with the rotten basketball that ensues.

    • Jul 18, 20109:59 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Wow. So you’re saying you’d actually prefer to watch terrible basketball this season?
      Hamilton’s a 20 ppg scorer on efficient shooting who doesn’t need to dominate the ball to score. He’s fine.
      Better health will mean a better product on the floor this year and while the roster is certainly not a finished product yet, it’s not like the Pistons are devoid of assets. The team will be improved this year and will be in a position to make a big trade with expiring contracts (Prince, Wilcox) as well as a proven scorer (Rip) signed to a reasonable deal compared to what some other players of his caliber (Joe Johnson, for example) signed for.

  • Jul 18, 20108:07 pm
    by The Rake

    Reply

    Tarbaby is indeed one.  Dude, its okay to vent but why not TRY for optimism.  Yes, the roster is a mix of tweeners with no true ballhandler and few decent defenders.  Yes, the coach may be in way over his head.  Yes, Dumars has made some erroneous picks, but are we gonna still kill him for Darko?  Move on.  Darko won a title!  He is a champion, ‘Bron is not!  Haha.  Anyway, I do hope there is a roster shakeup, but we are more than one or two players away from being a top level team.  I do think we are stuck in neutral (or reverse) for the forseeable future. But again, at least trying for optimism is better than the opposite in general

    • Jul 18, 201010:57 pm
      by gmehl1977

      Reply

      I guess it’s too easy to have no optimism Rake. Some people just like b!tching for the sake of it and will never change. I also disagree about this teams ceiling of only challenging for an 8th seed. I think we can at least get a 6th or 7th spot and that is barring any personel moves and staying healthy.
      The top 5 challengers of the east next season will be Orlando, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago. The remaining 3 spots could be had by any of the reamining teams. Detroit is probably on the same level or a little lower than Milwaukee and Charlotte. Having said that neither of those 2 teams were ravaged by injury like the pistons were. Keep the faith!

      • Jul 18, 201011:02 pm
        by gmehl1977

        Reply

        Another thing in Detroit’s favor would be that Orlando, Miami, Atlanta & Charlotte are all in the same division (Southeast). The central divison will be a lot easier to advance from with only Chicago and Milwaukee looking to be a threat.

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