Disclaimer: I know that the season is still very young, but the NBA wouldn’t be as fun if we didn’t take small sample sizes and analyze them.
Greg Monroe was one of the key free agents this past offseason, and there were plenty of teams that were in need of his services. He was rightfully sought after. In Detroit, Monroe averaged 14 points and 9 rebounds per game, even when Andre Drummond came into the picture a little down the road. Well, now that Monroe decided to go to Milwaukee, where a viable offensive big man was missing, let’s look at the kind of impact he’s having so far.
First, why not take a look at some team stats with Greg Monroe on/off the court:
So, what do these stats mean and what does it have to do with Greg Monroe? In very basic terms, this means that Greg Monroe plays a big part in the offense and defense of this team. The formula for an interior big man to open up pockets for shooters is well documented, and this is another example. The opposing team is forced to pay attention to what Monroe does on the block. He has attracted double teams and he has only gotten better at finding the open man when they take place. His best season in terms of assists per game was 2012-13, when he averaged 3.5, and so far he is averaging 3.1. On top of that, he has topped his best average in points per game so far while tying his best rebounding average. So, why the increase in offensive rebound percentage? Well, if Monroe is scoring with high efficiency, and the team’s percentages increase when he’s on the floor, then that means there aren’t going to be as many offensive rebound opportunities.
Looking at the defensive side of the ball, the opposing team has scored less efficiently with Monroe on the court rather than off the court. Opponents are scoring less per possession and their shooting percentages are dropping with it. Some of this could be attributed to the fact that Monroe is usually out there with the starting squad, who is better defensively, but it can also be attributed to Monroe’s improved defensive play. So far this season, he has averaged one block, one steal, 7.1 defensive rebounds, and has a 103 defensive rating.
So, if Greg Monroe is giving a lot of positives, what’s different from the early goings/first half of this season compared to last season?
I can give you one brief reason why the team may not look like the same team from the first half of last year. That reason is the difference in point guards. Here are a few stats for both Brandon Knight and Michael Carter-Williams from last season and so far this season:
The best analogy I can give for what I’ve seen from both point guards is that Brandon Knight has the ability to act as a lifeguard and he can help someone swim to shore, whereas MCW is a lifeguard who will help the same person just tread water until someone else can save the day. Knight was playing very well offensively last season, and he’s only been getting better. He has the ability to pick up his scoring when others on the team might have had an off night. MCW, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to sustain an above-average field goal percentage, and he hasn’t been the person you want to count on if someone else has a cold night.
As someone who watched MCW a lot while playing for Philly, I can say that he usually made up for what he lacked on offense by playing some solid defense. That did carry over to the second half of last season as his defensive rating when from 105 in Philly to 101 in Milwaukee, but so far this season, Knight is the one who has been playing better defense. The question is, as time goes on, will Knight continue to improve this season as MCW stagnates in inconsistency, or will Jason Kidd be able to help elevate the level of MCW’s overall play.
The point guard debate is something for another day though. This Bucks team shouldn’t stop at just the Monroe signing however because as the point guard debate shows, there are other areas this team needs to improve on to be taken seriously as a contender. In the meantime, Greg Monroe is affecting this team in all the positive ways that the fans could have hoped for. Keep on balling out Moose, you’re leading the way for big name free agents going to small market teams, and you give Milwaukee a nice breath of fresh air in the post.