As teammates next season, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are expected to play alongside each other as the starting center and power forward respectively for the Detroit Pistons.
Throughout his three-year NBA career though, Monroe has primarily played center. It is his most comfortable position and if he is selected to Team USA, it’s where he’ll likely see the bulk of his minutes. If Monroe continues to develop at power forward though, the ability to play two positions would be attractive to coach Mike Krzyzewsi, as the team could use two traditional bigs against teams like Spain.
Monroe possesses a variety of skills that could be appealing to a USA roster. First and foremost are his elite passing skills as a big. Of the bigs mentioned in part II, only Blake Griffin averaged more assists last season per 36 minutes.
While DeMarcus-Cousins supporters could present an argument, Monroe likely has the most skill of any of the camp-five. He is an above-average scorer, rebounder and passer. While not great on the defensive end, he has the body and basketball IQ to at least cause some problems on that end.
Monroe was selected to start over Cousins in the intra-squad scrimmage and used his start to flash some of his defensive ability, recording a steal and a block early. The fact that he was selected to start over Cousins and Derrick Favors, and played more minutes than both players, suggests Monroe impressed someone during the camp.
Monroe is not an elite rim protector though and averaged the lowest blocks per 36 minutes of the camp-5 last season. Monroe averaged the lowest rebounds per 36 minutes of the camp-five last season as well.
None of the camp-five have a real mid-range game to show, and while Monroe’s ability to operate and pass out of the high post can be attractive, the capability to knock down a shot from there would make him even more dangerous. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown he can do this.
Drummond won’t be scaring any teams with his mid-range game either, but his potential as a defender and rebounder are very attractive. Of the camp-five, Drummond was first in rebounds and blocks per 36 minutes last season. Including every big mentioned from part II, he remains at the top of rebounds-per-36 and is second in blocks behind Hibbert. Size is not an issue with Drummond as he is big enough to not only handle any player, but to overwhelm most with his immense size.
Like Kenneth Faried, Drummond won’t command many shots within the offense, which is good as U.S.A. will be stacked with guys that can score the ball. Drummond can make his living setting picks, rolling to the rim and causing problems with his offensive rebounding. He is also athletic enough to run with an up-tempo team should Coach K decide to ramp it up some.
Drummond’s main issue is age and experience. While none of the camp-five are very experienced internationally, the others have NBA seasons under their belt. Drummond hardly does. Last season, Drummond did not receive starter-type minutes when he was healthy and then missed a nice chunk of games due to injury. So while his per-36 numbers are great, the question remains can he prove that he can maintain them? Coach K will likely want to see further growth and improvements on the offensive end, plus an ability to anchor a defense will definitely be attractive steps to team U.S.A..
Ultimately, defensive prowess will likely keep Monroe off of the national team roster. While his skills are undeniable, he struggles in the areas the team needs most: individual defense down low and shot-blocking. This doesn’t mean Monroe won’t make the team, just that he’ll have to show improvements in these areas. If he does, his passing, scoring and ability to play both big spots could earn him a spot.
Drummond probably stands a better chance to wear the red, white and blue next summer. Where Monroe struggles, he shines. To go along with his elite rebounding, Drummond is the best rim-protector of all the bigs available to Coach K (I’m not counting Hibbert here as he needs a release to become available). At only 19, he’ll have to prove his skills consistent. If he can turn into the player his rookie stats suggest, Dwight Howard may be the only thing that could keep him off Team U.S.A..