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An extremely high rate of Greg Monroe’s shots get blocked

ESPN’s David Thorpe wrote about the NBA’s rookie class, and pulled no punches when it came to Greg Monroe. He listed Monroe as the most disappointing rookie so far this season (note: Insider required to read the full story).

Thorpe mainly focused on Monroe’s lack of offense, particularly his inability to get his shot off:

Derrick Favors has yet to have a shot blocked in the NBA, inside the paint or on a jumper. Incredible. DeMarcus Cousins gets 15 percent of his jump shots swatted (not great), but only 7 percent of his paint shots blocked (pretty darn good).

Monroe has had 24 percent of his paint shots blocked and 25 percent of his shots outside the paint blocked. Gulp. Those are astoundingly bad numbers. And watching him on tape, it’s easy to see what his issues are — no explosion, little creativity or extension and no sense of urgency as a finisher.

He’s playing like he’s a 6-6 power forward (like Chuck Hayes, who also gets 24 percent of his paint shots blocked). He’s getting blocked by bigs in front of him because he’s not challenging them with any fakes or anything that will throw off their timing — and when he does fake, it’s in slow motion. And he’s getting blocked from behind by guards who can easily read his intentions. His problems are fixable, of course, but with the Pistons playing better basketball, his minutes may diminish.

There’s not much I can argue with there. Monroe is shooting 38 percent from the field and 28 percent from the free throw line. Offensively, his footwork has been bad, he’s often hesitant to go straight up strong when he catches the ball around the basket and even his hyped skill as a passer hasn’t materialized other than in brief flashes, as he has nearly a 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

But where Monroe has impressed is on the glass. He has one of the best rebound rates in the league, second on the team only to Ben Wallace. And as someone who was not necessarily a dominant rebounder in college, it is good to see that Monroe has more focus on that aspect of the game as a pro.

I don’t expect that Monroe is going to develop into a dominant back-to-the-basket player. That wasn’t his strength in college, and there’s no reason to expect that it will magically turn into a strength against bigger, stronger NBA post players. But I will say that I believe Monroe’s offensive struggles have been largely mental. He just hasn’t seemed confident in the minutes he’s played, either rushing shots or taking too much time to load up and get them off. He’s also not a horrible free throw shooter. His 68 percent in two years of college wasn’t good, but it wasn’t the train wreck he’s shown as a pro so far. As we frequently see in the NBA, mental blocks often turn average or better free throw shooters into poor ones (Nick Anderson, what?). Monroe isn’t a Shaq/Ben Wallace type at the line. That percentage will go up by the end of the year.

16 Comments

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  • Nov 18, 20103:03 pm
    by Alan

    Reply

    It’s frustrating watching Monroe with the ball in the paint.  I swear, you’re wishing for the ref to blow the whistle because you know the ball won’t reach the bucket (that is, if we didn’t know his % at the FT line).  I think its too early to call a spade a spade on Monroe.  He’s only, what, 21?  He’s going to fill out and be more of a beast in the next few years.  There’s nothing wrong with a below-the-rim game, you just need to bulk up.  And he will.

  • Nov 18, 20103:07 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    I’m not sure Thorpe and I are watching the same guy. My early take is that his problems inside aren’t his mind or footwork as much as they are his lack of jumping ability. One of his knocks in college is that he wasn’t athletic enough. Thus far, that’s proved to be true (In my eyes, anyways). Interestingly, that hasn’t impacted his rebounding, so maybe I’m wrong.
     
    No doubt, guys who can’t jump can find ways to score; Monroe just hasn’t found them yet.

  • Nov 18, 20103:38 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @brgulker:

    I don’t think it’s fair for Thorpe to compare him to Cousins or Favors, who are both stronger and more athletic than Monroe.

    But where I think he does struggle with footwork is when he has the ball with his back to the basket. He’s not comfortable, and it shows. He’s a much better face-up/high post type of player, and that’s how Georgetown used him effectively.

  • Nov 18, 20103:56 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    Kevin Love can’t jump. David Lee can’t jump. It’s possible to be productive without having any ups, but it means being fundamentally sound and hustling. Monroe is a smart guy, but he’s not processing the game fast enough right now.
     
    He’s way too indecisive. When he goes to take a shot his whole shooting motion occurs at a snails pace. Guys can tell when he’s shooting a jumper from a mile away. His pump fake is also garbage because of it. He has made some quick moves to the bucket, but can’t finish once he gets there. There’s a way to be patient and move quickly, Monroe is being impatient and moving slowly. He needs to learn some tricks of the trade, and be quicker making them. You see him react on rebounds, so you know the ability is there for him to move quicker on offense. He’s a work in progress for sure.

  • Nov 18, 20104:04 pm
    by Glenn

    Reply

    Is Lee no longer a jumper?  I admit I haven’t seen him play in a while but I remember him being a dunker back in his high school/college days.

  • Nov 18, 20104:45 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @nuetes:

    Gotta echo Glenn here. Lee is really athletic. He’s smart and a good below-the-rim player too, but he can get up and finish.

  • Nov 18, 20104:46 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    Monroe will finish better when he gets stronger: ie next year. He has no explosion, no real hops, so he will have to be able to muscle through contact to finish. He is much better facing the basket and is very unsure of himself  with his back to the basket right now. Guards read him easily and rip him when he goes up or when he tries to put the ball on the floor. But he will be fine. He will be a nice player.

    did any of you enjoy watching that first quarter last night as much as i did? What a clinic. First LAL can down early and took the long jumper stretching the Pistons defense vertically. Then they went to Kobe on the wing stretching the Pistons defense horizontally. Then after it was nice and soft, the went into the middle to Gasol & Odom. It was a preplanned clinic.

    and on D??? The Lakers are on another level . Detroit actually did not move the ball that badly. LA just rotated all night. They have another gear beyond the Pistons best effort.

    I’ll be surprised if it is not LA against Boston for the Title again.

  • Nov 18, 20105:22 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    Just a thought but another thing i think a lot of people forget is that Monroe did have that ‘minor’ surgery on his big toe. It might only be a minor injury but who’s to know that it was only the pistons front office that spun it to only be ‘minor’. Tyson Chandler had a similar injury and it took him a while before he could get it better. Monroe isn’t the most athletic player but maybe this is what is hindering the little athleticism that he does have. Also your shooting motion starts from the feet up so this could explain why he is struggling to get his shot off at the moment. I might be wrong but it could be a factor in why he is getting so many shots blocked.

  • Nov 18, 20105:22 pm
    by oracle

    Reply

    The weird upside to this is that it means on the 76% of shots that aren’t getting blocked, he’s hitting 50% of them to get to 38% overall.  So, even though none of us are impressed by his moves/shots so far, he’s hitting at a decent rate when not getting blocked.  After he figures out how to avoid those blocks and use some better moves to set up easier shots, his FG% will climb quickly.

  • Nov 18, 20105:33 pm
    by kmula

    Reply

    He has noone to help him learn, whos he taking o tips from? chris wilcox ben wallace or CV bahahah

  • Nov 18, 20107:33 pm
    by Jeremy

    Reply

    @kmula
    By my reckoning he’s averaging just under 4 steals per 36 minutes over the last three games. Maybe he’s learning that from Ben. :)

  • Nov 18, 20109:20 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @kmula:
    “He has noone to help him learn, whos he taking o tips from? chris wilcox ben wallace or CV”
    I would hope Wallace, considering Ben is still one of the hardest working and best defensive bigs in the league.

  • Nov 18, 20109:22 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @oracle:
    I think he’d actually avoid blocks if he just went up strong. Ironically, I think a lot of his shots are getting blocked because he worries that if he makes a quick move, it will get blocked then. In reality, he’s giving defenders time to recover. He’s just not playing instinctively on offense yet. He’ll come around though.

  • Nov 19, 20106:20 pm
    by jason mclaurin

    Reply

    monroe will be fine especially if the pistons focus on putting great tools that fit his game around him i mean he is a top 10 pick with great offensive upside with a real workout regimen from a real coach he could be what the pistons ordered but in the meantime lets finish gettin some quality talent for those contracts rip and tayshaun aint happening any more and i dont want to talk bout stuckey,austin daye, or maxiell cuz thats not what we paid for lets go jeff green in the offseson with cleared money or make a trade for gilbert arenas.

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