Greg Monroe is like an ox.
Oxen are very reliable. They give you what needs to be done. They’re capable of using brute strength effectively, but they do it at a slow and steady pace. That, however, tends to make them unreliable.
When talking about the Detroit Pistons’ big man, he’s reliable and can do what needs to be done. For Monroe, it’s scoring around the basket and being one of the best young post players in the game. There’s no doubt that teams will be lining up for his services to hopefully lure the restricted free agent away from the Motor City.
But when it comes to defense, he moves at a slow and steady pace.
So, of course it caught my attention when it was reported that the Dallas Mavericks (of course, they are) would be interested in signing the 24-year-old big man.
It’s become a simple math problem. Mavs + young star = instant connection through free agency. But while Monroe deserves to play for a team that’s actually decent, it may need to be in a city that’s not Dallas, because Monroe doesn’t fit.
There are advantages that cancel out the disadvantages when it comes to Monroe, there’s no question. He has a quick first step that most defenders can’t keep up with, and has a nice touch around the rim. Not to mention, it helps that he can step back from 15-18 feet and make a jump shot.
He’s the kind of player the Mavs are looking for to pair with Dirk Nowitzki; someone who can score in the post and do it effectively. But what Dirk could also use is some help defensively in the post. And if you think Monroe has a tough time guarding power forwards for his size, how would he handle NBA-caliber centers?
It helps Monroe’s cause when most centers either play away from the basket, or don’t possess any offensive fortitude what so ever. But Monroe would be the starting center in Dallas if the Mavs did sign him. Dallas would be better off having Samuel Dalembert allowing 20 offensive rebounds a game for another year than watch Dirk and Monroe playing together.
Remember what the San Antonio Spurs did to Dallas in the playoffs with the pick-and-roll game? Imagine that, only 10 times worse with Monroe in the fold.
Monroe may be quick on his feet offensively, but is a huge liability at the other end of the floor. His 15 points and almost 10 rebounds per game scream awesomeness. His career average of less than one block per game doesn’t.
It’s not that Monroe is a bad player. Put him in the right system and right coach, he could be a better player than he already is. But it’s tough to teach someone how to play defense. Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis would’ve been All-Defensive first teamers if that weren’t the case.
Monroe just doesn’t fit in Dallas, and it’s not his fault. He’s a star in the making and can be a Zach Randolph 2.0, averaging 20 and 10. But the Mavs have more important needs to fill than a big man who struggles defensively. This all hinges, of course, if the Pistons even let him walk.
But if they did, don’t expect Dallas to be in the immediate running.