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Kevin Pelton’s statistical projection has Greg Monroe’s rebounding slipping

After projecting stat lines for next season’s rookies, including Brandon Knight, Kevin Pelton has projected the stat lines for next year’s sophomores. You might be surprised what he wrote about Greg Monroe (the first numbers are Pelton’s projections, and Monroe’s totals from last season are in parentheses):

Greg Monroe, F/C, Detroit Pistons

10.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.6 apg (9.4, 7.5, 1.3)

Monroe was passed over for the All-Rookie First Team, but few rookies did more to help their teams win. Only Griffin surpassed him in Basketball Prospectus’ wins above replacement statistic. What might limit Monroe’s upside is that he has what Bill James has termed in baseball as "old player skills." Other than rebounding, the areas in which Monroe excelled — taking care of the ball and finishing at a high rate — tend to be associated with grizzled veterans rather than promising rookies. Indeed, players similar to Monroe made relatively modest strides the next season, improving on average by 5.5 percent.

It might seem surprising that Monroe would regress on the glass next season, but this is actually relatively common. Players tend to peak on the offensive boards as rookies and decline from there, while defensive rebounding is generally steady from year to year. If Monroe is to beat last season’s rebound average, it will come thanks to more minutes after he came off the bench early in his rookie campaign.

A caveat: Pelton keeps each player in the same role as they played last season. I think it’s extremely likely Monroe will play more than the 27.8 minutes per game he averaged last season. Let’s say Monroe plays the median amount for a second-year center in the last 10 years who started at least 65 games, 31.9 minutes per game. With that 15 percent bump, Pelton’s projections would have Monroe averaging 11.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

That sounds a little better, right?

But I still don’t think 11.5-8.4-1.8 would satisfy the group of Pistons observers who have immortalized Monroe. On the bright side, I think Monroe will surpass at least two of those totals.

I emailed Kevin and confirmed his analysis doesn’t account for in-season improvement during a player’s rookie year nor college stats. That bodes well for Monroe.

Monroe became a much better scorer as last season progressed. His season-total stats are weighed down by those early games when he could barely attempt a layup without it getting blocked. Monroe isn’t that same player, and his scoring stats next season should reflect that.

Monroe also showed a tremendous passing ability for a big man at Georgetown. The Pistons didn’t run many plays that asked him to take advantage of that skill, but I doubt it’s disappeared. Presumably, Detroit’s next coach will put the ball in Monroe’s hands more, and not only will that lead to more points per minute (although, at the expense of a lower field-goal percentage), he will make more assists.

As for the rebounds, Pelton is probably right. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see Monroe’s rebounding percentages dip. Sure, he could buck the trend and offensively rebound even better in his second year than in his first. But what evidence suggests he will?

I’d bump up Pelton’s statistical projections slightly, but keep your expectations in check.

8 Comments

  • Jul 6, 20112:03 pm
    by Quick Darshan

    Reply

    I don’t see Monroe improving that much either.  He’ll continue to become more comfortable (especially as a playmaker) but I don’t see a huge leap from where he was as a rookie.

    That being said, I do think he’s a “championship” player.  I don’t mean he’s Dirk Nowitski, but he’s the kind of player that will make winning plays on a winning team.  Kind of like a better Udonis Haslem.

    Both he and Jerebko are the only current Pistons I feel that way about.  Probably Bynum too (off the bench).

  • Jul 6, 20112:25 pm
    by RandomGuy313

    Reply

    If our guards maintain below average numbers percentage wise at the rim; it is certain to expect that Monroe can maintain his offensive rebound rate that was top 5 in the league. Although his defensive rebound rate was not elite he was still in the top 20 of forwards. (http://www.hoopdata.com/defrebstats.aspx?team=%25&type=pg&posi=F&yr=2011&gp=40&mins=25)
     
    I am of similar mind with you, DF, in regard to his usage going into next year. His assist numbers were otherworldly for a big man in college and that vision should be implemented more next season; which should bring up his pts and assists up a bit.
     
    Monroe will still struggle to push past the 13 ppg mark until he can develop a consistent 15 footer and improve his FT%.
     
     

    • Jul 6, 20116:16 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Hopefully, the Pistons’ guards shoot a bit better at the rim, but that shouldn’t affect Monroe’s offensive rebounding rate. It’s rebounds grabbed per rebounds available. Detroit’s guards making more shots would lower the denominator in addition to the numerator.

      We’ll see about the jumper, but Monroe’s free-throw percentage improved during the season. Hopefully, that trend continues.

    • Jul 7, 201110:44 am
      by RandomGuy313

      Reply

      You’re right DF, I was incorrect on the implementation of the metric, allow me to rephrase.

      I still believe that his positioning, with a year under his belt will allow him to maintain those rates and I believe his offensive rebounds per game will increase due to the inefficiencies of the guards finishing at the rim and the loss of TP, and potentially Chris Wilcox, who was one of the better finishers on the Pistons.

  • Jul 6, 20112:27 pm
    by oats

    Reply

    I think he’ll do better than this projection, but not really a lot better. Maybe 13 points and 3 assists. This year is more about reintroducing parts of his game than putting up numbers. If he succeeds, the real jump should come in year 3 or 4. That is right around when players really start to have the league figured out and really start putting things together.

  • Jul 6, 20116:18 pm
    by David

    Reply

    I’m completely comfortable with Greg taking a few years to put everything together. As long as he keeps playing efficient minutes, i don’t think there’s much to complain about.

  • Jul 6, 20117:07 pm
    by jprime18

    Reply

    If there is a full season and Greg stays healthy, I think he can average 15, 10, and 2 assists. I’m assuming he’ll have the ball in his hands a lot more, as opposed being almost limited to garbage points.

  • Jul 8, 20114:11 pm
    by Rodman4Life

    Reply

    I agree Greg has an old-man’s game, but I also think he is pretty bright.  Those projections properly assess his athletecism but under-value his ability to use (and improve) his basketball acumen.  His offensive rebounds will probably go down because, as the Pistons begin to utilize his passing, he will be pulled farther from the rim.

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