In terms of different skills and versatility, Georgetown’s Greg Monroe probably is the most adept of any big man in this year’s draft.
Playing in the Hoyas Princeton-style offense, Monroe got the ball in varying positions in the half-court: high post, low post, wing, top of the key, baseline, anywhere. Because he possessed such a unique skill set and was a strong decision maker and passer, he was a tough cover for most post players.
A crafty finisher near the rim, the left-handed Monroe typically found ways to beat up smaller players in the post while taking slower defenders out to the foul line, then using a creative face-up game to attack off the bounce.
With the departure of DaJuan Summers, more pressure was on Monroe to deliver in the frontcourt. He did, and the combination of him and guards Austin Freeman and Chris Wright led Georgetown in an improbable run to the finals of the Big East Conference Tournament and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Sounds like everything’s gravy with this guy, right?
Like most of the lottery selections this year, Monroe is young and not fully mature. He has some red flags, like not asserting himself enough during games. But in regards to potential (there’s that word again), he could be a top-five player.
NBA Position: PF/C
Weight: 250 lbs.
Offensively, he’s more gifted than any other power forward in the draft, and has a skill-set unlike most forwards in the NBA.
Even though he’s 6’11”, at times he often displays the thinking of a point guard. The offense at Georgetown typically ran through him, much like it did with Jeff Green when the Hoyas made a Final 4 run in 2007.
Few bigs can match his passing skills. Whether it’s in the post off double teams or at the top of the key to a back-door cutter, Monroe’s passes are generally crisp and right on the money. When kicking it out to the perimeter, he puts the ball in the exact spot (a.k.a. the shooting pocket) the shooter needs to rise and fire.
From his freshman to sophomore seasons, he improved his rebounding considerably, going from 6.5 in 31 minutes to 9.6 in just 34 minutes. On the offensive glass, he goes hard after his own misses (averaged over 2.0 a game both years), getting several opportunities in a row to finish at the tin.
He markedly improved on defense at well, becoming more effective in playing help defense. He developed a good sense of knowing when to give help while still being able to rotate back to his man.
And on offense, he has a lot of different ways to attack. The strongest aspect is probably his face-up game. In the Princeton offense, he got the ball at the top of the key frequently, allowing him to drive hard to the rim against slower, less athletic defenders. He often used a long, sweeping spin move off the dribble, and since he’s left-handed, it made it that much more difficult to defend (and for whatever reason, defenders struggle with lefties).
In the post, he has a variety of moves and likes to go with a lot of pump fakes and up-and-under moves. Against smaller defenders, he used his size to get inside position and go up strong.
Finally, his athleticism makes him exceedingly difficult to defend in transition. Couple that with his great passing skills and his cunning finishes at the rim, and he’d be a bear to handle on a fast-paced, up-tempo team (think Golden State).
As talented and versatile as Monroe is, there is seemingly the same amount of questions about his game as there are various skills.
Let’s start with the ones that can easily be fixable. First off, while he has unmatched talent on the offense, he doesn’t do one thing great (besides passing); he does a lot of things well, but he lacks one constant, dominant move.
He doesn’t have much of a mid-range game either, despite having a nice, smooth stroke on his shot. Developing a consistent shot from about 15 feet would be a great first step to improving his overall offensive game; he’d almost instantly become a more athletic Al Horford.
At the next level, the transition in his offensive game could be hampered. Often times against bigger bodies, Monroe would become mundane and predictable in the post, partially because he doesn’t create a lot of space with his moves; he’s almost too reliant on his finesse game.
And we haven’t even touched the fact that he currently never spins to his right, rarely dribbles with his right…pretty much has no right hand at all. At the same time, NBA defenders seemingly forget that a guy like Manu Ginobili is left-handed a majority of the time, so perhaps that won’t be too much of a burden.
But it’s a few other issues that raise an eyebrow. Monroe would often grow frustrated when he couldn’t get in a rhythm and as a result become disinterested and get himself mentally taken out of a game far too often. Anytime you have GMs questioning how much you want to be on a basketball at given times is serious cause for concern.
There were also games when he should have been a dominant player on the floor, but didn’t make the defense feel his presence.
Take the NCAA Tournament game against Ohio – he had 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, 13 rebounds (six offensive), six assists, two blocks, and a steal. Seems like a great game, right?
But even though OU was undersized in the paint, he didn’t set the tone early. He was too passive and not nearly as aggressive as the situation called for. When they were down by double-digits for a majority of the second half, that’s where Monroe was able to get a majority of his stats; he didn’t leave his fingerprints on the game.
Can he mentally develop and mature as his skills naturally progress and improve?
NBA Comparison: Lamar Odom
Draft Projection: Top 10