Greg Monroe: How Does the Signing Look So Far?


After 25 games, was the Greg Monroe signing still the right move for the Bucks?

The Milwaukee Bucks did the unthinkable on Saturday night. They went into Mordor and destroyed the one ring that rules them all. They climbed Mount Everest. They had the confidence to ask out the prettiest girl at the party and they danced with her until the party was over. Well, they did the NBA equivalent of all those things.

The Bucks knocked off the unstoppable Golden State Warriors, ending their 24 game winning streak. It was an impressive victory and one that Bucks fans hope will jumpstart their season. One of the most instrumental pieces in that 108-95 over the Warriors was one of Milwaukee’s most recent acquisitions, Greg Monroe.

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Monroe showed off his full arsenal of post moves on his way to 28 points and 11 rebounds on 11-for-16 shooting. He also had five assists, reminding folks that he can be one of the best passing big men in the NBA when he wants to be.

This type of game was exactly what Bucks fans expected to see from Monroe on a nightly basis when the team inked him to a long-term deal over the summer.

Monroe’s impressive performance got me thinking; just how good has Monroe been this season? Is he worth the three-year $50 million deal he signed with Milwaukee in July? That’s a tricky question.

If we’re talking offensively then the answer is yes. Monroe has been just as advertised when it comes to scoring. The dude can flat out get buckets. He’s averaging a career high 18.6 points per 36 minutes on 52.5 percent shooting. He’s also grabbing 11.3 rebounds and dishing out 2.8 assists per 36 minutes.

You couldn’t ask for more from your starting center. He’s smart, efficient, and can be downright dominant at times. He’s a safety valve the Bucks didn’t have last season. Whenever the offense stalls you can feel comfortable dumping the ball down to Monroe and letting him attack his man one on one. That’s particularly helpful on night’s when the three-point shooting is subpar, which seems like every night.

He’s a throwback post-scorer in a modern era where that type of player is disappearing. Players like Monroe and Al Jefferson are reminders that despite the growing popularity of small-ball, there is always room for a guy that can put his back to the basket and go to work.

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

That being said, the Bucks are still a disappointing 10-15 this season. Monroe’s signing was supposed to add gasoline to the fire and send Milwaukee from plucky upstarts to real contenders. Things are never that simple. What has been the biggest issue for the Bucks this season? You guessed it, defense. An area where Monroe has notoriously struggled for most of his career.

As a team the Bucks are ranked 26th in defensive rating, allowing 107.5 points per 100 possessions. A massive drop-off from last year’s squad that was 4th best in the NBA, allowing only 102.2 points per 100 possessions. Monroe’s lackluster defense isn’t the only reason for this severe dip, but it hasn’t helped.

His individual defensive rating sits at 103, not great, but not dumpster fire territory either. He has the 24th best defensive real plus/minus rating for a center at 2.08. Once again, mediocre, but not awful. The Bucks have actually been better defensively with him on the court.

With Monroe off the court the Bucks allow 110.1 points per 100 possessions, compared to 106.4 points allowed with Monroe on the court. The eye test may not match up with the numbers, because sometimes a disengaged Monroe can look like he’s not even trying, but overall he hasn’t been as bad as his reputation suggests on defense this season. Bad, but not as bad as it could be. High praise, I know.

Plays like this don’t help that reputation, but I digress.

So, was signing Greg Monroe the correct decision? It looks like the jury is still out on that question. Despite the early struggles, it’s hard to fault the front office’s decision making.

How often do you get the chance to bring a big name free agent to Milwaukee? This is the type of gamble the Bucks have to make if they want to take their organization to the next level.

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The move hasn’t translated to wins yet, but there are still 57 games left to play. If Monroe can at least remain a passable defender,  the team defense can become more consistent, and the offense can overcome its shooting woes, then the Bucks could rediscover their winning ways in a hurry.

If that doesn’t happen by the end of the season folks may consider this signing a massive failure. Especially if the team fails to reach the playoffs. That’s a real possibility, but it’s still not time to panic. There’s no need to run around Milwaukee holding photos of Jared Dudley and Zaza Pachulia shouting “we have to go back!” like you’re Jack from Lost. But, if you want to do that that’s your prerogative.

Next: 20 Greatest Individual Seasons in Bucks History

Remain calm and go to your happy place. Just sit back, fire up the DVR, and watch Saturday night’s win over the Warriors. You can worry about the rest of the season on Tuesday.