Greg Monroe Closes Summer League on a High Note
After opening his NBA Summer League season with three uninspiring performances, things suddenly clicked for Detroit Pistons rookie big man Greg Monroe, who scored 27 points with 14 rebounds in Detroit's fifth and final game Friday.
Sure, his performance came in a losing effort -- the New York Knicks won 92-80 -- but games in July are evaluated by developing talent, not wins and losses, and there's no denying that Monroe developed over the last week and a half.
"I learned how to be a little bit more patient, let things clear out a little bit, take my time and just read the defense," Monroe said after Friday's game.
After averaging 8.6 points on 42.3 percent shooting in the first three games, Monroe scored at least 20 points in each of the last two, shooting a combined 63.6 percent. "As the week progressed, I did get a lot more comfortable," he said. "I got into a groove today."
That groove included a sterling 8-of-10 shooting performance from the field, not to mention 11-of-16 from the free-throw line. He tallied double-digit free throws for the second game in a row -- this coming after combining for 12 in the first three games -- a sure sign of growing comfortable and being aggressive in the post. That's an encouraging sign for the Pistons, who sorely missed reliable scoring in the low post last season.
Despite standing an inch shy of seven-feet, Monroe is known to be more of a finesse big man than a bruiser, but his offensive talents should complement Ben Wallace's defense-first mentality on Detroit's front line -- assuming they share the court together. Wallace, who signed a two-year contract to remain with the Pistons earlier this summer, started 67 of his 69 games last season at center. That just so happens to be Monroe's natural position, as well, although he certainly has the versatility to slide to power forward. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.
"They haven't talked about the season yet," Monroe said. "Everybody was focused on summer league and getting things done here. But in camp, [the players] will get the information they need, where they're going to be as far as position-wise and what their roles are going to be."
In the meantime, Monroe will undergo minor toe surgery next week, correcting a problem that's plagued him since high school. But he should be 100 percent recovered in a week, well before training camp opens in October, giving him plenty of time to continue working in the weight room and on the practice court.
"It's been fun, we had a lot of fun," Monroe said about his time in Las Vegas. "I think I got a lot better in these few days -- learned a little bit about the pro style, adapted to it a little bit -- but I'm going to have a lot more work to do, and I'm going to continue to work."