The Raptors will be Monroe’s fifth NBA team, after getting drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2010 and bouncing around to Milwaukee and then both Phoenix and Boston last season, alone.
Here’s a little more on Toronto’s new big man.
Name: Greg Monroe
Position: Power forward/centre
Weight: 265 pounds
Drafted: Seventh overall in 2010 by the Detroit Pistons
Addresses a team need
It’s not a secret that Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri and Co. have been looking to add another big to shore up the team’s centre depth after the club traded Jakob Poeltl as part of the DeMar DeRozan-Kawhi Leonard blockbuster.
Now, with Monroe, the Raptors have a proven veteran presence who can backup Jonas Valanciunas without much trouble on a cheap deal that will still pan out for Toronto even if Monroe doesn’t work out the way the team may want.
Looking specifically at how Monroe will work with the Raptors, while he, rightfully, has the reputation of being an old-school plodder like Valanciunas, he’s different from the big Lithuanian as he’s actually a very effective, and surprisingly creative passer out of the post.
For his career, Monroe averages 2.3 assists per game, a rate above normally seen from men his size. In the 2012-13 season, he averaged a career-high 3.5 per game and just last season, split between three clubs, his play-making remained consistent, with a 2.3 per-game average.
This could potentially be a major boon for the Raptors, particularly with Nick Nurse now at the helm and likely looking to run a very pass- and cut-heavy offence, meaning Monroe could wind up being an interesting fulcrum to set up the Raptors’ attack out of the post at times.
Former Raptor killer
For the Raptors, bringing Monroe in may also be a case of “if you can’t beat him, have him join you.”
Though not as famous or anywhere near as outspoken as someone like Paul Pierce, up to the time this signing was first reported, Monroe was one of the many “Raptor killer” players spread across the NBA.
In his eight seasons facing the Raptors, Monroe averaged 14.8 points per game on 57.5 per cent shooting, both figures that are higher than his career average of 13.7 points and 51.5 per cent, with some memorable performances including a beastly 35-point effort on 63.6 per cent shooting in 2012 as a member of the Pistons.
It’s been a while since Monroe has gone off on the Raptors like that, but with him now on the team, they won’t even have to think about that happening to them in the first place.
Boring as it may sound, there’s something to knowing exactly what you’re getting and what you’re not from a player, and in Monroe the Raptors have that.
Starting with the bad news, a great defender and rebounder Monroe is not. If you’re looking for a guy who can contest at the rim, sky for boards and show crazy emotion that will get the crowd going like former Raptors Bismack Biyombo or Lucas Nogueira, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
Monroe comes with a reputation of not being the toughest guy out there down in the trenches, despite his size, and, frankly, doesn’t have the level of athleticism and lateral quickness to be a very effective defender – kind of like Valanciunas. This, recently, has made Monroe difficult to get on the floor, leading him from being a lock as a starter into a full-time reserve as his career his progressed.
What Monroe is good at, however, he does it well. And that’s interior scoring and passing out of the post.
There’s very little volatility with Monroe in that if a teammate gets him the ball in good position down low, he knows what he’s doing with it and will likely make the right decision, whether it be kick out to an open teammate for a better shot or to use his deceptively quick post moves to score or draw a foul.
Is this flashy? No. Is it something the Raptors need? Probably, yes. The team’s second unit didn’t have much in the way of an interior presence on offence before the Monroe news dropped.
And, as previously mentioned, his passing ability should be able to mesh with Nurse’s new offence, so it’s not as if Monroe’s a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
As far as backup big men go, it’s far wiser for a playoff team like the Raptors to go with the prudent choice of a guy who won’t foul out, knowing what he’ll give you nightly rather than trying to catch lightning in a bottle at the right time with someone who may be longer and more athletic, but with far less polish.