For the past three years, ESPN has released a listing of the top young players in the league determined by David Thorpe and Kevin Pelton. Thorpe provides the coach's perspective, Pelton offers an analytical assessment. This year, they've added scout Amin Elhassan to the mix.
The three determine a ranking based on the idea of which player they'd select for the long-term if they were starting a franchise from scratch. The players must be 24 years old or younger as of December 1, 2013, so Moose and Drummond will both be eligible for the list again next year.
Elhassan: Probably already the best rebounder in the NBA, Drummond's combination of size, elite athleticism and motor give him the ability to impact the game every time he steps on the court. He's still raw in terms of skill and feel, but the instincts are there.
Thorpe: He is nowhere near the same player in a fast game as he is in a more deliberate half-court game. Drummond has the ability to both outrace bigs end-to-end or earn deep post position in early offense. Doing so significantly elevates Detroit's offense and makes him a far more dynamic player.
Pelton: Dwight Howard is the only player with a similarity score better than 90 compared to Drummond, who could become the fourth-youngest All-Star ever after Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Magic Johnson.
Moose is one of the few players on the list who didn't move much from the previous year, going from 14th to 13th:
Thorpe: Detroit switches a lot off "big-little" screens, meaning Monroe has to guard wings more than most bigs. He has not been an effective defender in one-on-one situations as much as he could be, mostly because he keeps his long arms too low. Getting them up early would help him defend opponents who are driving to the hoop, taking away their easy looks at a runner or jump shot. He does that sometimes, but doing it all the time would elevate his on-the-ball defense to near elite level.
It's a nice reminder of how rare it is to combine a frontcourt with a pair as talented as these two.