He's a turnstile trying to contain the pick-and-roll out on the floor — a mess of bad footwork, poor timing, lazy reaches, and bad choices. When Detroit has him hang back at the foul line, ball handlers can zip around him with an easy crossover or launch wide-open jumpers as Monroe, petrified at giving up a rim run, retreats a step farther than most bigs would dare — often with his arms down. Pistons fans complained, with some justification, about Lawrence Frank's reluctance to play Monroe and Drummond together for much of last season, but Monroe's total inability to guard stretchier power forwards factored into that choice — just as it should factor into Detroit's evaluation of things now.
This seems to be in direct contrast with DBB's own Mike Payne, who in his January 24th article Is Greg Monroe capable of defending NBA Power Forwards?, wrote:
He appears to take a heady approach to his defensive responsibilities, relying on a keen awareness of opponent play-making to be one of the league's premier pick-and-roll defenders.
Mike backed up that assessment with the following numbers:
If the numbers are any indication, he'll not only handle it well, he'll excel. According to Synergy Sports, Monroe is ranked 17th in the league (regardless of position) in defending spot-up perimeter shots including long twos and three-point attempts. Synergy has tracked 87 spot-up attempts against Monroe this season, and he's allowed 31.1% inside the three point line and 26.9% beyond. These marks are better than a "who's who" of defensively-acclaimed big men, making him a virtual stopper when the opposing team employs a stretch shooting big man.
Greg's perimeter defense and his career-long knack for pick-and-roll defense make him well-suited to defending power forwards. Given that he'll no longer be guarding the biggest opposing player, many of the defensive liabilities he faced at center will be neutralized at power forward.
So why do we find such a disparity when it comes to describing the defense of one Detroit's best players? Not knowing enough about defending the pick n roll, hopefully the informed members of DBB can flesh out the pros and cons of each argument. Or maybe Mr. Payne himself will be kind enough to offer a rebuttal to Mr. Lowe. Hey what else is there to talk about?