Milwaukee Bucks: The Perfect Version of Greg Monroe

Oct 8, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Greg Monroe (15) works the ball against Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut (6) during the first quarter at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Greg Monroe (15) works the ball against Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut (6) during the first quarter at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports /

Greg Monroe has a chance to redeem himself in a different role on the Milwaukee Bucks this season.

Just one year ago everyone hailed Greg Monroe as the best player on the Milwaukee Bucks roster. One year later he’s wound up as the constant victim of criticism and trade rumors.

He went from being a fixture in the starting lineup to the best or second-best player off the Bucks bench. What a difference a year makes.

Even though Monroe might be a throwback player better suited for antiquated era of basketball, he still has some value today. His post scoring is elite and his rebounding is solid and big man passing game is sound. These things have been true about Monroe since the beginning of his NBA career.

But there are other things that have been true about Monroe since his first NBA games. He is a minus defender, he lacks athleticism, and he has no ability to stretch the floor. If he can improve one or two of these things his value would grow immensely.

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Making inferences from preseason play is typically a bad practice but lets throw caution to the wind and do something bad. Monroe looks to be in better shape this preseason.

He is slimmer and seems to have a bit more energy on the floor. That might help him ameliorate one of his weak points – defense.

His improved stamina isn’t going to morph him into DeAndre Jordan but it might help him deal with some of his shortcomings in productive ways. More energy will help Monroe compete on the defensive end while playing 25-35 minutes per game over the course of the season.

On defense, half the battle with big men is just getting them in the right position. If they are where they need to be there massive frames make it harder for opponents who try to score in the paint.

If Monroe has the energy and is giving effort he should be able to possess the athleticism necessary to get to where he needs to be in time. The next part of the puzzle is knowing the defensive scheme and how he fits in.

Monroe has now been a member of the Milwaukee Bucks for over a year, more than enough time for a player to get the defensive game plan into their head.

With a better understanding of the way a Jason Kidd defense operates Monroe will likely be able to react quicker to typical in-game situations and process information faster. He doesn’t have to anchor this defense, he just needs to be in the right positions. If Zaza Pachulia was able to do it two years ago, Monroe can do it now.

All of this is fine and good but Monroe has still always lacked one important big man ability – shot-blocking. He is never going to be an average shot blocker in the NBA because he does not have a good vertical leap.

Most bigs who lack that use defensive positioning to try to effect shots at the rim. But with how creative and athletic NBA players are good position is often not nearly enough.

Enter a new development in Monroe’s game – quick hands. Now this development could easily be the result of sloppy preseason play and a small sample size but if you use the eye test you will start to think it is not just a fluke. Monroe has been picking people’s pockets so far, as his six steals in two games would attest.

Moose has always been a decent thief, averaging 1.1 steals per game over his career, but this year it looks like he could up his stealing significantly. If he could get up to the 1.5 steals per game range that would be a pretty impactful improvement.

Blocks aren’t the only thing that limit the opposing team’s shot opportunities. Steals create turnovers and turnovers limit shot attempts just as effectively as blocks do.

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The trick for Monroe is to get better at defense while not losing any of his offensive potency. His offensive skills, specifically low post scoring, are what made the Bucks pay him so much last offseason.

If he can continue to score at the rate he has during his Milwaukee tenure and throughout his entire career it will do the team good, especially with the loss of Khris Middleton.

If Monroe can keep his offense strong while improving on D then super Moose is almost complete. He just needs to rebound well and consistently.

His career rebounding numbers look similar to his rebounding numbers from last season but if you watched Moose at all you would know he seems to lose focus and become disengaged in games from time to time. If he can maintain focus for the entire game night in and night out then he could have the best rebounding year of his career.

A combination of better stamina, improved positioning, and more steals would move Greg Monroe from a bad defender towards a competent defender. Add to that an excellent scoring skill set in the paint, strong rebounding numbers, and some nice passes here and there and you have the best version of Moose yet.

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