Greg Monroe The Pistons’ Next Star?
The Detroit Pistons are off to a difficult start to the 2011-2012 season; they’re 2-7 and in last place in the Central Division. As a team, they are last in the NBA in scoring and second to last in point differential. The long layoff caused by the lockout has had a negative affect on the Pistons and the results are a team likely looking at another lottery pick.
One player however, was able to use the extra time off to his advantage. The Pistons’ 6’11’ center, Greg Monroe, is having a breakout season and he credits his offseason workouts for his continued improvement.
“I spent the whole offseason working out,” Monroe explained to HOOPSWORLD. “I worked on making my shot better, learning new post moves and just getting stronger.”
The results have been dramatic. Monroe finished his rookie season as an average offensive player on the Pistons, finishing the year as the team’s sixth highest scorer. This year, Monroe has turned himself into the Pistons leading offensive and defensive player. He leads the team with 15.4 points per game, 56.9% shooting from the field and 8.7 rebounds per game.
In fact, Monroe’s numbers are up in almost every major offensive category. He’s even gone from a poor free throw shooter during his rookie season, only 62.2%, to a top five shooter on the team this year, shooting 79.3%.
“You can see the difference from last year to this year,” forward Charlie Villanueva told HOOPSWORLD. “He is playing with a lot more confidence, being more vocal, more assertive, being more of a presence down in the post. He definitely has improved and that has a lot to do with his confidence.”
Monroe’s presence down low and his consistency night in and night out are also drawing raves from former four-time Defensive Player of the Year, Ben Wallace.
“Greg came in as a rookie last year, he had his ups and downs like most rookies do. Now he’s real steady for us. He anchors the middle for us and he’s doing a great job of being a presence on the floor,” Wallace explained to HOOPSWORLD. “When he gets the ball he knows how to score. He’s also been great for us on the defensive end and he’s starting to talk more. The sky’s the limit for Greg.”
Monroe’s hard work is paying off, but some of the credit has to go to the new Pistons coaching staff. During the offseason, the Pistons brought in veteran head coach Lawrence Frank, and the work his staff has been doing with Monroe isn’t going unnoticed.
“We have a different coaching staff this year and they pay a lot of attention to detail and work with him everyday on footwork and the fundamentals.” Wallace continued, “You can see a huge improvement in his game.”
“(Coach) brings a lot of energy to this team. As a team we just have to get better and that’s what the focus is right now.” Monroe concluded, “It’s just a new feeling in the locker room this year.”
While the Pistons continue to struggle, Monroe is confident they will be able to turn their season around. All of the hard work, all of the hours in the gym and the hours working with the coaches is about one thing for Monroe, the playoffs.
“We’re trying to get better everyday. We have to find ways to win games. Our goal as a team is to just make the playoffs. That’s our goal for right now.”
While the playoffs are a long shot this season, Monroe’s play should give the team and it’s fans hope for the future. If other young Pistons, like rookie Brandon Knight and third year forward Austin Daye, can follow Monroe’s lead and improve their games by stepping up their offseason workouts, it’s possible the Pistons could be fighting for a playoff spot in a year or two.