Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
John Hollinger names his All-Breakout Team and has some very nice things to say about the NBA's best-kept secret.
John Hollinger, who would never be confused for a fan of the Pistons or their personnel moves in the past several years, listed his All-Breakout Team on ESPN (Insider) and listed Greg Monroe as a prime candidate.
About Monroe, Hollinger wrote:
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
Monroe actually had a breakout performance last season, but since he's 22 and still improving, and since nobody outside the state of Michigan is aware of his existence, I thought he still warranted mentioning here.
Monroe's averages of 15.4 points and 9.6 boards last season were impressive enough, especially given his 52.1 percent shooting and underrated passing skill. But the thing that could make him an All-Star in the East* this season is that he played only 31.5 minutes per game last season. That happened even though his foul rate was fairly low for a big man, and with the Pistons' lack of other offensive weapons it seems fairly likely his playing time could bump into the 35-minute range.
If that happens, and Monroe continues on his upward trajectory, one can see how he might be able to maintain averages at or near the heralded 20-10 mark; again, accompanied by a shooting mark in the 50s and some of the best assist numbers among big men. While Monroe isn't as far along defensively as he is offensively, he is still one of the best young big men in the game. In fact, I would argue he is a more valuable player at this point than the more heralded DeMarcus Cousins. If the Pistons can stick around the playoff race until February -- not likely, but stranger things have happened -- a 20-10 mark should be enough to get him to Houston.
As Hollinger indicates this should surprise exactly zero Pistons fans because we have the pleasure of watching Monroe on a nightly basis. Still, it surprised me last season how little respect got from the press and NBA community.
Hopefully, continued improvement, the arrival of Andre Drummond and a better record for the Pistons will help expand Monroe's profile and he will get the respect (and All-Star selection) that he deserves.
Also named on his All-Breakout Team: