Joe Dumars officially introduced Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler and Vernon Macklin at a press conference in Auburn Hills on Saturday, and more than just the media turned out to see the three rookies. Quietly lurking in the back of the Detroit Pistons practice court was Greg Monroe, the team's young cornerstone.
Shortly after the press conference, I joined a small handful of reporters to ask Monroe his thoughts about the draft, the upcoming lockout and the team's coaching search.
"Like Joe said, we were very lucky," Monroe said. "All these guys weren't supposed to be available at the picks that we had. So for them to fall to us, we're lucky. We got a very good group of new players here.
"Brandon -- everybody knows about Brandon, how good he is, what kind of point guard he is. Kyle Singler brings that toughness, that versatility. And then Vernon brings another strong low-post body to come in, score in the post and protect the rim. So everything that we got, it's stuff that will help the team, definitely. I'm happy for all these guys, I'm happy they're going to be my new teammates."
But what about some help down low? I asked Monroe if he was surprised to see so many big men off the board by the time the Pistons drafted at No. 8. "Nah. Everybody has their opinions going into draft night, but no one really knows except for the teams," he said.
"So I wasn't surprised on draft night with the guys going early -- there were good guys going. We're definitely lucky to have Brandon, and Kyle and Vernon, but for those guys to go that early, I wasn't surprised at all."
Dumars repeatedly lauded the rookies both for their talent as well as being "high character guys" during the press conference. "We've always been successful here with high character guys," Dumars said. "And when we've been at our best, it's because we knew we were putting guys on the floor that were going to give it their all and were going to do things the right way.
"And as you all know sitting here, we've had some slippage here in that department over the last year or two, so this is a direct effort to reaffirm who we've been and why we have these banners in this building. You win with those types of guys. We wanted to get the best players that we could get, and we also wanted to get guys that we knew would show up and be professionals on a daily basis."
When asked whether it was difficult to play through all of last year's drama, Monroe essentially confirmed the need for more focused teammates.
"Nah, because [the problems] never had anything to do with me, they had to do with my teammates. I don't want to sound selfish, but I just tried to focus on what I had to do to help the team win," he said.
Due to the expected lockout, Knight, Singler and Macklin won't have the benefit of spending the summer working with Detroit's training staff or easing into the pro game in the Las Vegas Summer League. Monroe admitted this will only make things more difficult for the young trio.
"I think it'll be a little bit harder because you can't actually adapt to the NBA until you're actually in here practicing on the court and in games," he said. "So that's going to be a little rough. I think that they're going to continue to workout, and when training camp starts, they're going to have to learn a little faster. Once you're in the season, experience is the only teacher at this level, so they'll have to go through the same growing pains as everyone else."
As for the lockout, Monroe had little to say, aside from being hopeful that resolution will come. "Like most players, I just want to play, but this is something that has to be worked out. It hasn't been worked out yet but I'm just waiting like everybody else," he said. "I'm gathering all the information that they're putting out. The NBA Players Association is doing a great job of keeping us informed, so I'm just taking all the information in. I'm just hoping that they get it done. ... We just want to play."
As for the coaching search, Monroe is content watching from the sidelines and letting the front office make its decision. "Any decision with this organization, I have total trust and faith in Joe. He's done a great job.
"It's my job to just play, that's ... one of the things that I've focused on, no matter who's my coach. I've never met a coach that just wants to lose. Every coach has what they want to do and the things that they believe will help you win, and it's just the players' job just to execute that. So that's the only thing that I've been focusing on ever since I've been playing basketball."
But when I asked about the recent report that Patrick Ewing was being considered, Monroe's eyes lit up, perhaps revealing he does have a favorite after all. "He's a Hoya! Can't go wrong with a Hoya," he said while laughing. "He was obviously a great player. He's been an assistant coach for a few years now, and just watching the development of Dwight Howard as he's worked with him over the past couple of years -- Dwight Howard already had a lot of talent, but you see how much more he's grown after he's been working with Pat.
"Big Pat -- we call him Big Pat -- is a great guy, he knows the game, he played the game so he understands what it takes to be successful at the highest level."
Stay tuned over the rest of the weekend for more from Saturday's press conference. Also, if you missed the press conference, you can watch a replay here.