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Would you rather have DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe?

Heading into the 2010 NBA Draft, DeMarcus Cousins was clearly the player Pistons fans coveted most. After ending up with Greg Monroe as a consolation prize, I’m sure that most feel the team did OK for itself.

Today in the daily 5-on-5 roundtable, five writers revisited the Cousins vs. Monroe debate:

Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Cousins gets the nod here for playing a much greater role with his Kings. He’s pretty inefficient, which is troubling, but he’s a dazzling talent. Still, Monroe looks very promising, and could realistically end up being the better, more reliable player over the course of his career. Just not right now.

Bret LaGree, Hoopinion: Greg Monroe. Monroe will never carry a heavy offensive role like Cousins should, and Cousins might become the more valuable player because of that. Monroe had the better rookie season, though.

Ian Levy, Two-Man Game: Cousins was ranked 50 spots higher, but I’d rather have Monroe. In their rookie seasons, Monroe was a better offensive rebounder and more efficient scorer, and he turned the ball over on fewer of his possessions. Cousins is undoubtedly more skilled, but right now Monroe is getting more out of his skills. To me, that’s the definition of value.

Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Cousins. Monroe has an elegant pass-first game and could eventually develop into a highly effective shooter. But Cousins’ power, size and skill make him potentially unstoppable. He’s an ’80s-style enforcer who trades on intimidation and has a rapidly improving 17-footer. Could be the second-best center in the league in two years.

Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksetball: Cousins. Oddly enough, Cousins’ personality may be his biggest advantage over Monroe. Cousins will never have a problem demanding the ball and getting up lots of shots. Monroe’s passiveness makes it difficult to imagine him taking on a much larger role. It’s easier to envision Cousins making more shots than it is Monroe demanding more.

Three out of five prefer Cousins. Admittedly, I still think Cousins has more upside than Monroe, but that doesn’t mean I’d swap them. Cousins does still have some trouble controlling his emotions and struggled with turnovers last season. But it is impressive how, in just one year, Monroe has closed the perceived gap between he and Cousins so much. Remember, heading into that draft, Monroe wasn’t even the consensus No. 2 big man in the draft — Derrick Favors was much more highly regarded.


  • Sep 29, 201112:13 pm
    by max


    I think the sophomore seasons of them will show us who will be better (if we play more than 50 games this year).I think Monroe will show that he will be the better defender and rebounder,working on his lower body as it was mentionend in an earlier report.And he still has the potential to play on offense like Al Jefferson.I see in Cousins alot of offensive potential,but what our franchise needs is a two way player and I highly doubt Cousins will become such a player with his mindset.Monroe had the 3rd most steals for Centers in the NBA and was 7th in offensiv rebounding.

    • Sep 29, 20112:54 pm
      by tarsier


      As rookies, Cousins was the better defender of the two and Monroe was more valuable on offense (higher efficiency, better offensive rebounding). But it is possible that you are right and that will switch as time goes on. It just isn’t that was thus far. Yeah Monroe, got a lot of steals, but his defense was still terrible.

      • Sep 29, 20117:04 pm
        by max


        I liked Monroe in Pick n Roll Situations hedging the ball handler,horrible is a strong word when on the same team with CV.

  • Sep 29, 201112:40 pm
    by Mike Payne


    “Monroe has an elegant pass-first game and could eventually develop into a highly effective shooter”
    Apparently, Chris Palmer didn’t watch a single Detroit Pistons game this year, nor did he bother looking at the splits.

    • Sep 29, 201112:46 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Haha. I thought that same thing. And I’m sure I’m exaggerating a bit, but I don’t remember seeing Monroe shoot a single jumpshot all season, so not sure what evidence suggests he’ll become a “highly effective shooter.”

      • Sep 29, 20111:09 pm
        by neutes


        Monroe has a few jumpers on his youtube mixtapes, probably the only few he made all season. He didn’t take many that’s for sure. He has a slow release. There were times I saw that he wanted to take one, but by the time he was about to release it the defense already closed and he thought better of it.

        • Sep 29, 20111:17 pm
          by neutes


          Whoa. According to hoopdata Monroe took quite a few jumpers last season actually. From 10 feet and beyond he was 12 of 56 from the field. Definitely something he could work. Can’t say I see anything that suggests Monroe will become a highly effective shooter though.

          • Sep 29, 20111:25 pm
            by neutes

            More fun with numbers:

            Monroe took 75% of his shots at the rim shooting 65% on them. 55% total on the season.

            Cousins took 33% of his shots at the rim shooting 62% on them. 43% total on the season.

          • Sep 29, 20111:28 pm
            by neutes

            Basically all Monroe has to do to be viewed in the same light as Cousins is take a crapload of ill-advised jumpers. Not that I would want that, because it’s clearly not good for the team.

    • Sep 29, 20112:55 pm
      by tarsier


      So true. It was a comment clearly based on his reputation coming into the league and not on anything he’s done since arriving.

  • Sep 29, 20111:06 pm
    by neutes


    Chris Palmer is currently the most idiotic guy writing for anything ESPN related. Whenever that dude comments or writes about anything I just laugh.

    I wouldn’t trade Monroe for Cousins. Wouldn’t even think about it. Upside yeah Cousins has it. Will he ever get there? I don’t know. He’s a big physical presence that takes way too many jumpers. Neither one of these players are above the rim talents. Cousins isn’t going to change his game, but if those jumpers start falling consistently he’ll be tough to defend on offense.

    There’s still a ways to go. There is no way I can look at what Cousins did last season and say his play helped his team. He turned it over way too often. He shot pretty poorly for a big man. He took a lot of shots. Monroe’s usage rate will never resemble Cousins’, but I think Monroe does way more things that benefit a team and help them win games, or at least help them not lose games, which Cousins can do single handily.

  • Sep 29, 20111:54 pm
    by Murph


    If I had to pick one today, I’d go with Monroe, based on his personality and style of play.  While Cousins was brash and demanding, Monroe was more willing to play within the Pistons offense, and take advantage of oportunities.  Monroe also strikes me as being smarter, both on and off the court.

    Of course I could be 100% wrong.

  • Sep 29, 20112:57 pm
    by tarsier


    It would be interesting to see a poll of how “experts” would redraft Cousins, Monroe, and Favors today. I’m guessing 20 people would be enough to give all 6 possible orders.

    • Sep 29, 20113:19 pm
      by neutes


      I’d go Favors, Monroe, and Cousins in that order in a big man redraft. 

      Of those mentioned I think Favors is still the only one with a shot of making a legit impact on both sides of the court. I also like that Favors has more prototypical size and athleticism for his position.

      Had you mentioned Ed Davis I would have taken him over Cousins as well. If you can’t tell I’m not a fan of Cousins. As much as he could be good I’m not one to trust that players suddenly decide to tell a good shot from a bad shot. I tend to think that’s a skill that Cousins doesn’t possess. The only way he’s going to reach whatever ceiling he’s projected is to become better at taking bad shots. Doesn’t seem like something I want to wait to find out.

      • Sep 30, 20119:21 am
        by tarsier


        Would you at least take Cousins over Udoh? :)

  • Sep 29, 20114:22 pm
    by dvs


    I think Monroe has the right mindset to become a great player. He seems to have a good understanding of the game and a good attitude. He’s the type of player who’d succeed in any system. Detroit was a mess last year and he still did really well and grew throughout the year.
    Cousins on the other hand doesn’t have those qualities.
    If he stays in Sac i can’t see him reaching his true potential because they lack leadership. I think he needs a real vet leader to keep him under control.
    If we could get him (that would never happen), Wallace would be the right type of guy to keep him in check.

  • Sep 29, 20114:25 pm
    by jj


    Cousins definitely has greater potential because of his size (mostly his width). He should be a killer low-post guy, offensive rebounder, and paint-filler his whole career. Like Z-Bo but with quicker feet. But the attitude problem is huge. It seems to effect every play; he overreacts to lots of stuff and gets way too emotional (regarding both good and bad things), but he also doesn’t get emotional when he should.  When he takes a ridiculous shot or dribbles the ball off his knee, sometimes he smirks and other times he curses at other people or walks away furious at himself. I only watched him a few times last year on league pass, but he seems screwed up.
    And neutes, you can definitely be taught better shot selection. In the spectrum of NBA skills, that’s a pretty easy one to correct–but Cousins has to be willing.

  • Sep 29, 20117:12 pm
    by Esteban


    Look at the adjustment of the two players throughout the season.  Monroe became more consistent. Cousins had a dazzling game, maybe two in a row, then slumped.
    If you look at the advanced stats for the season, Cousins was a better defender and a better rebounder by a slight margin, but then you look at something like usage, where Cousins was used 27% of the time on offense and Monroe only 15%, yet Monroe was producing similar numbers with lesser touches. Monroe finished the season with an 18.0 PER, best for 53rd in the league. Cousins? He finished with 14.62, good for 147th in the league.
    Monroe is a smart and efficient offensive player, who’s going to give you close to 10 rebounds a game, a couple of assist and maybe a steal.
    Cousins has the mean streak, which I like, and coveted, but Monroe is going to produce consistent numbers and he’s not going to be a locker room menace who blows up on teammates for not passing him the ball in the final seconds.
    Neither player is a cornerstone of a franchise, both are really really good role players.

  • Sep 29, 20118:02 pm
    by Packin'


    I like Monroe for his on ball defense but Cousins has him beat in every other catagory! The Kings were the best offensive rebounding team last season, Dalember and Thompson were among the best per minuit in the league. Passing, no contest, footwork, jumpshot, ditto. Cousins weak spot is between his ears. That’s his biggest flaw, if he can overcome that he’ll be dominant.

  • Sep 29, 20118:04 pm
    by jj


    Cousins has all the tools to be a franchise player, while Monroe simply doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the Pistons took Monroe–Cousins is going to be years worth of headaches while Monroe figures to be nothing but reliable production–but you can’t judge Cousins’ potential on what he did this year.

  • Sep 29, 20118:55 pm
    by Travis


    I was on MLive all the time stating I would take Monroe over Cousins because of Cousins’ attitude issues. I’m glad Monroe is playing up to my expectations on the court and off the court.

  • Sep 29, 20119:06 pm
    by Laser


    Totally opposite kind of guys, and it’s an interesting question. I think it would depend highly on the environment you’re plugging these guys into. If you’re drafting for a team like the 2003-2008 “Goin’ To Work” Pistons, i think Cousins is the choice because of his physical skills and upside. If you’re drafting for the 2009-present “Goin’ To Sleep” Pistons, Monroe is your man hands down. If the Pistons were unlucky enough to “luck” into Cousins, last year could have been much worse and Cousins could have been ruined for life. They should both develop into very good big men, but the emotional stability Monroe brings might prove invaluable on a disaster of a team like this one.

    • Sep 29, 20119:17 pm
      by Laser


      Also, pointing out that Monroe was not the consensus #2 big man in the draft is a heck of an understatement. Some people thought so little of him that they pretend like deciding to take him with the #7 pick was somehow an accomplishment for which Joe Dumars’s should be commended. Something tells me every time Monroe hears a list of Joe’s accomplishments that includes drafting him, he either rolls his eyes or grimaces, depending on how angry he is that Joe gets a pat on the back for that kind of no-brainer steal.

      • Sep 29, 201111:05 pm
        by tarsier


        Sometimes the obvious choice isn’t the right one. Dumars doesn’t deserve a ton of credit for drafting Monroe. But give him at least a sliver. He didn’t make the same mistake as Golden State. The fact that another team did make that mistake shows that it isn’t a given that someone won’t do so.

        And I am not a big Dumars fan.

        • Sep 30, 20112:14 pm
          by Laser


          zero credit. not a sliver. the pick was a no-brainer if there ever was one. your idea of the “same mistake as Golden State” can only mean drafting Ed Davis instead. that was NEVER happening and NEVER even discussed. if monroe, cousins or favors was available at that spot, they were getting picked. period. pat joe on the back for something else.

          • Sep 30, 20116:22 pm
            by tarsier

            But can’t you can’t say that when it was apparently possible to take Udoh over Monroe, since Udoh/Davis was kind of a 50/50 call. It’s like not giving Chicago any credit for beating Indiana in the first round. Again, it doesn’t deserve much, but some. As another comparison, imagine Melo wasn’t in the 2003 draft. Dumars would still deserve some blame for taking Darko over Bosh (never mind Wade–he was considered quite a reach at 5), but not much because it would have been a similar no-brainer.

    • Sep 30, 201112:50 am
      by neutes


      I gotta love Laser’s comments because he’s always the contrarian, even if he agrees, which is hard to do. I agree that I like Cousins attitude. I think that’s why Piston’s fans valued him so highly during that draft. I’m not entirely sure what happened in Sacramento though. He was pretty much allowed to do whatever he wanted on the court, and that to me creates a problem that he’s now stuck with. I look at Cousins and think he could have been and could be so freaking good, but that team was so young and inexperienced, including the coach, that I now think he’s ruined. 

      They gave him free reign to take whatever shot he wanted. There’s a couple philosophies to this madness. One is that by doing so he becomes a go-to player, he becomes a better shooter, he develops and inside/outside game that is unstoppable to go along with his superb rebounding. On the flip side you’re letting him take bad shots, which is something that could become ingrained in his game and something that can’t be changed.

      This is where I have to give Kuester all the credit in the world with Monroe. He challenged him to do the dirty work. You look at Monroe as a college player and Monroe as a pro and they are two completely different players. That’s the case for Cousins as well, only Cousins went the wrong direction. Cousins didn’t take jump shots like they were going out of style at Kentucky. He may have wanted to we have no idea, but he didn’t. I think the player the Kings thought they were getting is a different player than they ended up with. The same for the Pistons. Only it worked out for the Pistons and not for the Kings. I could pull a Khandor and blame the lack of elite level coaching, and you know what, I think I just might. But at this point with as young as Cousins is, and the fact there is nothing around him to challenge him towards a different direction, that the player he was last year is the player he will be – inefficient and inconsistent. 

      The best comparison to Cousins is Randolph, and it took Randolph years to stick to the paint and become the player he is now. If Cousins has any chance imo he needs better coaching, and I can’t believe I’m even saying that.

      • Sep 30, 20111:00 am
        by neutes


        I suppose with all that jibberish I forgot to make my point. There is no telling how Cousins would have ended up had he been a Piston. Say what you want about Kuester but I actually think he could have given Cousins the tough love he needed. Monroe didn’t get on the court right away, he had to work hard and be willing to do the dirty work to get on the court. I’m probably one of the very few Pistons’ fans that think highly of Kuester. I just think he got stuck in a bad situation, but to me he made the most of it. It’s not his fault it was a no-win scenario.

        • Sep 30, 20119:27 am
          by tarsier


          Agreed that he got into a tough situation. Disagreed that he made the most of it. Dumars knew he was hiring Kuester into a bad team. That’s why there weren’t even questions about his job after one year. But no matter how good or bad at coaching he was, he could have avoided alienating so many players. When more than half the team hates the coach, you know he could have done something better.

  • Oct 1, 20112:29 pm
    by khandor


    When all is said and done, Monroe will have a better NBA career than Cousins. Talented loose cannons who are also under-sized at the specific position which they play best, in the NBA, rarely have long and highly productive careers.

    • Oct 2, 20113:10 pm
      by tarsier


      In what universe is Cousins undersized? He is the same height and weight as Dwight Howard. And he’s younger so more likely to add to that. His having such a great center’s body is part of what sky rockets his potential.

      • Oct 2, 20116:03 pm
        by khandor


        You are free to make your own decisions about which players are actually under-sized relative to their peers at the Center position:
        BOS – Perkins [6-10, 280]
        NYN – Stoudemire [6-10, 245]
        NJN – Lopez [7-0, 260]
        PHI – Speights [6-10, 245]
        TOR – Bargnani [7-0, 250]
        CHI – Noah [6-11, 232]
        IND – Hibbert [7-2, 278]
        MIL – Bogut [7-0, 245]
        DET – Wallace [6-9, 240]
        CLE – Hollins [7-0, 230]
        MIA – Bosh [6-10, 228]
        ORL – Howard [6-11, 240]
        ATL – Horford [6-10, 245]
        CHA – Mohamed [6-10, 221]
        WAS – McGee [7-0, 237]
        LAL – Bynum [7-0, 285]
        PHO – Lopez [7-0, 255]
        LAC – Jordan [6-11, 265]
        SAC – Cousins [6-11, 270: IMO, big rear end, grounded, w/o significant shot-blocking ability]
        GSW – Biedrins [6-11, 240]
        OKC – Krstic [7-0, 240]
        DEN – Nene [6-11, 260]
        POR – Przybilla [7-1, 255]
        UTA – Jefferson [6-10, 265]
        MIN – Milicic [7-0, 250]
        SAS – Duncan [6-11, 248]
        DAL – Chandler [7-1, 235]
        HOU – Miller [7-0, 244]
        NOH – Okafor [6-10, 252]
        MEM – Marc Gasol [7-1, 265]

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