The subject of trading Greg Monroe is an intriguing one that hits a sore spot for some fans. Those fans should be happy to hear a recent report from Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that the Detroit Pistons are absolutely not considering trading the young big.
Monroe came into the picture when there was not a lot to cheer about the Pistons. Until Andre Drummond came along, Monroe was the lone bright spot that Pistons fans could rally around as they looked ahead to a better future. After all, 7-foot players with his skillset don’t come along every day.
His modest personality and consistent improvement through each of his NBA seasons has gained the utmost respect from a fan base that values players who put their heads down and put in work. Detroit is known as a hard-working, blue collar city and the culture created by the Pistons organization has certainly reflected that through the years. They don’t need to see flashy plays and stunning alley-oop dunks to be entertained. They simply want to see hard fought wins.
Each of the Pistons’ championship teams were hard-nosed groups set on out-working their opponent in any way necessary. The Bad Boys revolutionized the NBA game with rough play while bullying the opposition until they couldn’t stand it anymore – just ask Karl Malone. The “Goin’ to Work” team from 2004 may not have been bullies, but they were a defensive juggernaut capable of completely shutting down any offensive scheme thrown their way.
What makes the obsession with Monroe so interesting is that, while he doesn’t impress with an ostentatious display, he also doesn’t show the same grittiness that Pistons fans have come to expect from their best players. Monroe is a pretty good rebounder, averaging just below 10 per game in every season except his rookie year, but he doesn’t have much else to market on the defensive end of the floor.
He is quick for his size and has an impressive steals total, but he does not guard the post well nor is he very effective containing stretch fours. His offensive game isn’t necessarily one dimensional, but if he’s not spotting up from the elbow or playing with his back to the basket on the block, it is very easy to stop Monroe. He has good vision and passing skills for a big man, but, again, once you move Monroe away from his preferred spots, he becomes very ineffective very quickly – take a look at his shot charts if you need a reference.
These past two paragraphs don’t exactly paint the portrait of a player you should be willing to spend max dollars on, but if the Pistons plan on retaining Monroe after this season, they will likely have to make him the highest paid player in team history. Not to deny the merits of Monroe’s game , he is a very good player and one of the few young players to show significant improvements each year, but he hasn’t shown much improvement on the defensive side of the ball. He is still a very below-average defender. He has the ability to be an impact player despite his shortcomings, but not on a consistent basis.
The question of whether or not to trade Monroe has to come down to a matter of what the team values most about him. Is his offensive offering more valuable than what he gives up defensively? If the answer to that question is not a hard yes, then Monroe needs to be traded before the trade deadline. Even if they even each other out, that is not enough of a value to offer him a max contract.