Greg Monroe has had one of the most underrated journeys in the NBA. After being named a McDonald’s All-American in High School, Monroe played two seasons at Georgetown. Monroe was taken 7th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons.
In Detroit, he paired with Andre Drummond to form a very formidable frontcourt and Monroe quickly established himself as a double-double threat. Through five seasons in Detroit, he averaged about 15 points and 9 rebounds per game, including averaging a double-double in the 2014-15 season.
In the 2015 offseason, Monroe was set for free agency. Tired of no playoffs and having to share the court with Andre Drummond, Monroe looked elsewhere, signing with the Bucks on a three-year, $50-million contract.
The deal was groundbreaking, as a small-market team beat out the two biggest markets in the NBA in the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers for an All-Star caliber player. The signing was one of the Bucks’ biggest free agent signings, maybe ever.
Milwaukee had huge expectations for Monroe. The Bucks were just coming off a surprise playoff run in 2014-15 even though #2 overall pick Jabari Parker was lost for the season just 25 games into the season. Monroe would join a young group led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Michael Carter-Williams, John Henson, and the aforementioned Parker.
Instead of another playoff appearance the Bucks plummeted to a 33-49 record, finishing last in the Central Division. Many fans blamed it on Monroe as he played bad defense and his rebounding totals were his lowest since his rookie year. While the struggles weren’t solely Monroe’s fault as Michael Carter-Williams struggled mightily as the starting point guard, a change had to be made.
Instead of becoming angry with the organization, Monroe evolved. Realizing that centers who have no perimeter game or don’t serve as rim protectors were becoming extinct, Monroe improved his athleticism and developed a mid-range jumper. While serving as sixth man, he beat out Miles Plumlee and John Henson for the most minutes out of the frontcourt.
Monroe averaged the most per-36 points and steals in his career. The Bucks utilized Monroe perfectly, having him come off the bench and bully the post for points and serve as the unit’s leading rebounder. Paired with rookie Thon Maker, they formed a very effective frontcourt.
Fast-forward to this offseason. The Bucks are coming off a very competitive first round exit at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. Greg Monroe has a player option.
He could go somewhere and get more minutes and possibly more money, or he could stay in the current role he’s in with the Bucks. He should stay in Milwaukee and hear’s why.
Possibly the biggest reason he should stay is this: Monroe has a clear role with the team. While still not being a good rim protector or owning a three-point shot, a player like Monroe won’t be able to fit into every offense in the NBA. If he goes to a team where he is set to fail, it could ruin Monroe’s career.
Greg Monroe is paired with possibly the best frontcourt player possible. Thon Maker is the perfect offset for Monroe’s skill set.
The two have opposite strengths and it works perfectly. Maker, the starter, is an amazing athlete, possesses a perimeter game, and is a very good shot blocker. Monroe is a very good rebounder, scores very well from the post, and uses steals and positioning on defense. The two opposite skill sets attack opposing offenses and defenses from all angles.
Finally, Monroe’s locker room presence is great for the team. Monroe serves as the enforcer of the team. When someone messes with a Bucks player, Monroe messes back. Like this incident:
Monroe also helps mentor the young Thon Maker. If he opts-in, Monroe and Maker can continue their chemistry and he can assist in Maker’s rapid development. Maker still isn’t able to provide consistent quality minutes, so Monroe can step in and fill the void.
If the Bucks and Monroe want to continue their growth, Monroe needs to stay in the relationship.