The most frustrating thing about promising young big men is their propensity to foul, to turn the ball over or attempt bad shots. Like most of us, I've been watching Greg Monroe pretty carefully since he entered the league, and I've been amazed at just how mistake-free he is on offense. It got me thinking-- just how rare is it when you find a productive young center who doesn't lose playing time due to the expected rookie mistakes?
"Rookie Mistakes" are often reflected statistically as turnovers and personal fouls. Let's take turnover rate as the leading line here. How many starter-level rookie centers in the history of the NBA sport a lower turnover rate than Greg Monroe? Two: 1984-85's Sam Perkins and 2004-05's Emeka Okafor.
While Perkins was more of a power forward, Monroe isn't exactly a pure center. Okafor fits the bill, but both of these players were less efficient when compared to Greg Monroe. Monroe leads the other two in effective field goal percentage by about a mile and a half. Monroe's 54.2% effective field goal rate is head and shoulders above Okafor's 44.7% and Perkins' 47.8%.
Greg Monroe's rookie season isn't over yet. But in the history of the NBA, no starting rookie center has taken better care of the ball than he has while being so efficient on offense. The case with Greg Monroe isn't rarity, it's uniquity. The best player available at the number 7 pick in last summer's draft may just have been a gold mine...
In short, is there a center in the history of the league who was more careful and effective on offense than Greg Monroe was during his rookie season? No. There isn't. History books are getting straight up Charlie Sheen'd while we watch from afar.
(Notes for stat-heads: I consider a "starter level" rookie as anyone who has started more than 30 games in a season while playing more than 15 minutes per game. Basketball-Reference considers Monroe a forward, so I compared him to both power forwards and centers in this analysis. The most weighted factor in this analysis was turnover rate.)