Almost immediately, nearly all of Greg Monroe’s numbers improved this season from last season, with one notable exception:
Through his first 10 games, Monroe averaged 0.7 steals per game – down from 1.2 last year, despite his minute rising from 27.8 to 31.0 per game.
Monroe has quick hands and excellent anticipation, and he gets a high percentage of steals by knocking the ball out of the opponent’s hands. He has a knack for timing his swipes for just the right moment when his man eases up with the ball.
His lack of steals early didn’t appear due to unsuccessful swipes. Rather, Monroe appeared so focused on his offense, he rarely even attempted to make steals.
Thankfully, he’s collecting steals at high rate once again. Monroe broke out of his mini scoring slump against the Heat, but he also made three steals. To me, that’s just as important.
Steals are an underrated play, because not only do they always end an opponent’s possession (unlike blocks), they often lead to fastbreaks (unlike charges). They’re especially important for someone like Monroe, who still struggles too often to defend his man and help.
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