By Matt Kawalsky
Posted on http://www.draftexpress.com
The last time we checked in on Greg Monroe in-depth, he had just posted an impressive performance against Hasheem Thabeet and the Connecticut Huskies, was a reason for optimism on a top-10 ranked Georgetown team that was in the midst of a seven game winning streak, and appeared to have all the makings of a one-and-done talent. While the latter observation may still be true, Monroe couldn’t carry the Huskies through their Big East schedule as seamlessly as some had hoped, and has fallen under quite a bit of scrutiny as his team lost 13 of their last 19 games and barely made it into the NIT. Like other Big East prospects, the strength of the conference put him in the spotlight on a bi-weekly basis, making his strengths and weaknesses that much more apparent to NBA decision-makers.
Monroe’s best asset moving forward is his unusual blend of size, versatility, touch, and instincts. Though he could stand to add some muscle to his frame to handle the rigors of the NBA, his body should be ready for the pro-level after a summer in the weight room. He’s not a great athlete, but he demonstrates great fluidity in some aspects of the game, displaying a promising finesse game and some unique floor skills for a center. For a player as young as he is, Monroe has a good feel for the game as evidenced by his court vision, ability to finish with his left hand over and around defenders, and his ability to execute in offensive sets. Unfortunately, Monroe didn’t always have the easiest time using these skills on a regular basis due to a handful a rectifiable flaws in his game.
The most apparent weakness Monroe has at this point lies in his lack of ball-handling and finishing ability with his right hand. He has proven capable of putting the ball on the floor to attack the rim off the dribble from the high post against slower defenders, but has an incredibly difficult time changing directions with the ball when his initial penetration gets cut off. His 2.5 turnovers-per game can be attributed almost entirely to situations where he was forced to crossover, attempted to take more than one dribble with his right hand, or tried too hard to come back to his left hand after initially driving right. Monroe’s ability to improve his right hand should dictate how easily he is able to create match-up problems on the next level –which will be a key to his offensive development. He was able to score effectively in one-on-one situations essentially one-handed this season, but will find NBA defenses more proficient at keeping him out of the lane.
One of the other primary factors that prevented Monroe from having more success as a freshman was the lack of polish on many of his offensive tools. Though he made a handful of long jumpers this season, the mechanics on his jump shot are extremely inconsistent. He has some potential as a jump shooter, but will need a ton of reps to make it a useful part of his game moving forward. Down low, he was able to score at a solid rate with his back to the basket, but his moves are a bit methodical and he doesn’t do the best job maintaining his body control when he gets bumped. Monroe’s touch with his left-hand often bailed him out of situations where he was forced to shoot a hook moving away from the rim or found himself a bit out of position.
Monroe’s struggles with physical defenders around the basket are indicative of the general aversion to physical contact that presents itself in some parts of his game. Though he does a nice job establishing position on the block and attacking his man’s shoulder when he drives for the most part, Monroe looks tentative to go right at his man when attempting to score in the paint, and often lacks the explosiveness to go up and finish strong in traffic. The fact that he still manages to get to the line at a solid rate is a testament to just how easily he puts himself in position to score –not to how physically he plays. This ability to get by doesn’t translate to his rebounding ability, where he ranks last in our database in rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted amongst centers and near the bottom amongst true power forwards. Monroe’s lack of production is largely due to the fact that he doesn’t make a great effort to rebound outside of area and has a hard time finish his box outs consistently.
The apathy that is sometimes an issue for Monroe as a rebounder is a big concern. Georgetown went 7-11 in Big East play, and Monroe seemed to be coasting at times. He doesn’t impose his will on the game like he is capable of, seeming to lack the assertiveness and aggressiveness that his team desperately could have used down the stretch. This is especially concerning on the defensive end, where Monroe has the size and instinct to make a huge impact.
He puts up impressive defensive numbers –recording steals at an elite rate for a center and altering quite a few shots as well. However, he proves to be a poor one-on-one defender and only a mediocre stopper in the post. His instincts and hands allow him to be statistically productive, but his motor and tenacity against players attempting to back him down leave a lot to be desired. He also gets turned around too easily, having a tough time staying square to his man when he makes a move in the post. Some of Monroe’s issues can be attributed to the fact that he is actively trying to stay out of foul trouble and just isn’t that quick laterally, but he has never been known for having the toughness or mean streak that would make him an impact defender.
While Monroe obviously has a number of weaknesses as a player, the silver-lining is that almost all of them are correctable. Monroe is highly coachable on all accounts, and though John Thompson III no doubt took some time to tutor his star pupil, Monroe’s problems couldn’t be solved in a single campaign. Pegged as a major option on the a middle-of-the-pack Big East team out of necessity rather than preparedness, Monroe was not as ready (or possibly willing) to play the role of star that many of the players in the freshman crop that came before him had no trouble filling. This year’s crop of freshman had no chance to live up to the expectations provided by their predecessors, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see many of the players that return to school blossom with a year of experience under their belt.
This offseason should be a key to Monroe’s long-term development, whether he be preparing for the draft or readying himself for another run in the Big East. At this point, he may be in position to be a lottery pick, and though he’s a strong candidate to struggle through some growing pains at the next level, his progression could be accelerated significantly under the right coaching staff. Monroe could become an excellent role-player if he finds the right mentor, but his development into a bonafide star will be a tenuous one.