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Greg Monroe for Most Improved Player

Patrick has repeatedly complained about the Pistons not promoting their players – especially irritating considering how hard they sell their halftime acts. So, we’re doing something about it.

Though the Pistons are finishing a lousy season, they still have players who deserve at least consideration for post-season awards, and we’re going to tell you why. But because we don’t receive a paycheck from the Pistons, we’re not going to stop there like they would if they conducted this campaign themselves. We’re also going to evaluate whether the player actually deserves the honor.

Here’s our look at Greg Monroe for Most Improved Player.

Making the case

Patrick Hayes: The Most Improved player race is a crowded one, with plenty of deserving candidates — Jeremy Lin may have saved the Knicks season, Nikola Pekovic may have made T-Wolves fans forget David Kahn also signed Darko Milicic, James Harden has emerged as a legit head on a three-headed monster in Oklahoma City, Andrew Bynum has turned into a superstar (complete with diva attitude, which should count for something) and Roy Hibbert’s improvement has been a big reason the Pacers made another jump forward this season.

Some of those guys probably improved more than Monroe did. But all of those players mentioned above have much better players around them than Monroe did.

Seriously, the guy can’t even get a proper entry pass into the post half the time. Imagine if Monroe played on a team committed to getting him 15 shots per game? He’d be an All-Star right now, even if his defense is still lagging.

Dan Feldman: Last year, Greg Monroe’s offense consisted of putbacks and getting set up by teammates. This year, the Pistons have asked him to shoulder a much larger burden, and he’s risen to the challenge.

Monroe’s points per game improved by 6.1 from last season – the 10th largest improvement in the league – and although his efficiency dropped slightly, his usage skyrocketed from 15.4 to 23.7. For a player to handle such a substantially increased role with such a small drop in true-shooting percentage (57.5 to 56.3) takes a real improvement.

Monroe unleashed parts of his game not seen last year, especially a one-on-one game that efficiently and methodically dismantled opponents. Whether using his mid-range jumper, strong first step or nifty post moves – skills not seen last season – Monroe scored like a crafty veteran.

And these numbers aren’t a product of selfishness. With the ball in hands more, Monroe showed off the passing ability that had scouts raving at Georgetown but didn’t appear last year. His assist percentage nearly doubled, going from 7.5 to 14.0.

All the while, Monroe’s calling card last season – rebounding – actually improved. His defensive-rebounding percentage climbed from 20.4 to 23.8, and his offensive-rebounding percentage increased from 13.0 to 13.3.

Honest assessment

Patrick Hayes: As a Pistons fan, I’m picking Monroe. If I were a voting member of the media who had to cover up my biases and pretend to be a passionless observer, it would be a tossup between Bynum and Harden for me.

Honestly, I’m just pumped that Monroe is getting consideration from the national media for awards this year. I’m not greedy, the Pistons are bad, Monroe’s defense is nowhere near his offense yet, I get that there are rational arguments as to why he probably shouldn’t win.

But like earlier in the season when I ranted that no one touted his All-Star credentials, it wasn’t that I necessarily wanted him to be considered over someone having a better season than him. I just want people to realize how close he is to getting awards and recognition, something he was undoubtedly shortchanged on last year.

Monroe won’t win, but him being a contender for the award is good enough for now.

Dan Feldman: Monroe won’t make my TrueHoop Network ballot for Most Improved Player, which goes three deep like the NBA’s.

There’s no doubt that Monroe made real gains and deserves a lot of credit for it, and in some years, he’d get my vote. But his advancement didn’t occur in a vacuum, and other players improved more this year.

Jeremy Lin’s advancement was historic. Nikola Pekovic went from far worse than Monroe to nearly as good. Kevin Durant, James Harden and Andrew Bynum were already at least very good and got significantly better – arguably a more difficult move. Ryan Anderson’s improvement has probably been overrated, but he still deserves credit.

Nearly every player listed above improved on both sides of the ball. Monroe, for the most part, didn’t. His defense still lags, and although that’s not as sexy as his offensive improvement, it should still count.

I expect Monroe to get some votes for the award. He certainly belongs in the discussion. But he’s not in my top three – though, he could be next year.


  • Apr 24, 201212:25 pm
    by Daye and Knight


    Monroe definitely has come a long way from last season so I second he at least deserves some votes, we just need to find him a partner in crime down low for next season. Maybe in the draft?

    That being said…Austin Rivers has popped up in a few mock drafts going to the Pistons. Would that be a disappointment considering we have Stuckey and Knight already? Would we trade Stuckey or Gordon and have Rivers and Knight be our featured back court?

    I think we need to address our front court problem first and take a big man, but if we did get Rivers I wouldn’t be upset as long as we trade one of our guards for a big man…hopefully Gordon

  • [...] The case for Greg Monroe as the MIP. [...]

  • Apr 25, 20122:13 am
    by Max


    How many players playing for the same team other than Monroe became indisputably the best player on their team this year?

    • Apr 25, 201210:01 am
      by tarsier


      Monroe became that in the second half of last year.

      And in response to your question: Hibbert, Jennings (who doesn’t get mentioned for this award nearly enough), Gallinari, maybe Cousins, Gasol, and Wall, and probably one or two others I can’t think of.

      More importantly, that is irrelevant, because if you go from a 5 to a 7 with the best other player on your team a 6, that is not as much improvement as going from a 4 to an 8 with the best other player on your team a 9. Those numbers are totally made up and not supposed to be referencing any of these players, but my point is: what does it matter how good or bad your teammates are for measurement purposes of how much you’ve improved?

      • Apr 25, 20122:37 pm
        by Max


        I was just throwing out a question.
        I don’t want Monroe to win or even get votes because my own sense is that second year players shouldn’t even get consideration.   For me, the reward should go to players like Chauncey Billups, Gerald Wallace, Dorrell Wright  and Hedo Turkolu (even though I hate him and his game) because I think the award should be reserved for those players who bounce around or fail to become steady rotation players for years and then turn it around sometime after their third or fourth full year in the league.   I know my opinion may be arbitrary but that is my take.
        Second year players should improve if they are likely going to be anything in the league and in general, most good players do.    If you are going to give it to second year players, you might as well just call the award “best sophmore” since some 2nd year player will usually best fit the absolute definition of “most improved” just by getting more minutes.  Lin and Pekovic getting consideration is a joke to me too–as far as I’m concerned, this season was practically their rookie seasons which is even worse to my thinking than voting for a fully fledged sophomore like Monroe.    Neither played 15 minutes a game last season and neither approached playing all of the games.

      • Apr 25, 20122:47 pm
        by Max


        @Tarsier………I disagree regarding several of the names you gave and don’t agree that Monroe had earned the right to be called “indisputably” the Pistons best player at the end of last season.   On the other hand, John Wall did earn that right almost as soon as he stepped on the court during training camp last season.
        Actually, none of the players you named as I look at it deserve the designation.   You could argue that any of them are the best player on the their teams but none of them are a no brainier and I would definitely disagree that Jennings (Monta Ellis) or Hibbert (Danny Granger) are the best players on their team and have a hard time saying Gasol is flat out better than Randolph or Gay.  Cousins is merely arguable and Gallinari missed too many games and would be merely arguable too if he had not.
        And my question matters because being the undisputed best player on your team comes with responsibilities and challenges.

        • Apr 25, 20122:54 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          Granger was not better than Hibbert this season. He scores much less efficiently, doesn’t get to the line, doesn’t create shots for teammates like some versatile wings do and isn’t particularly good defensively. Hibbert is a pretty efficient scorer, rebounds and was fifth in the league in blocked shots.

          • Apr 25, 20124:53 pm
            by Max

            I would counter that his stats have taken a step back because he is embracing that the Pacers are a team–unlike Carmelo Anthony.   The Pacers have the fifth best record in the league right now and better than the Lakers.  Not to put Granger in Kobe’s class, but your argument is something along the lines of those who have been saying Gasol or Bynum are the best player on the Lakers during the past few years–the Gasol argument was more popular two years ago.   I on the other hand just think Kobe is flat out their best player and while Granger is more controversially their best player, I still think he is.   A lot of nights, Hibbert barely scores.  Granger is their go-to guy and is averaging 5.7 more points.   Also, I always thought shooting 87 percent from the line and 38 percent from three point land at high volumes was extremely efficient.   He shot 416 from the field but a full third of his shots were threes.    I remember when Isiah’s stats went down as the Pistons got good.  Granger deserves more credit than he is receiving.

  • Apr 25, 20124:57 pm
    by Max


    Also, Hibbert turns the ball over more often than Granger, who turns the ball over seldom for a player of his caliber, and Granger gets to the line more often.

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