The Detroit Pistons won their first game of the season Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, surviving a 4QC (4th quarter collapse) to win 98-95. Carmelo Anthony went 5-for-21. Josh Smith went 2-for-17. However, there were many much moosen!
Greg Monroe has been and will continue to be a central point of conversation when discussing the Pistons this season. Many Pistons fans were hoping to lock him up this summer for another four to five years to play alongside Andre Drummond. Though it's not very common, Monroe decided to take the qualifying offer instead and hit unrestricted free agency next year. From reports, this is not just because of the Pistons not offering him enough money, but the fact that he wants to be in control of where he plays the rest of his career. Wednesday, he made Pistons fans feel all that much more uncomfortable about the future.
Despite reports of watching every game of last season, Stan Van Gundy thought it best to start the Big 3 against the Knicks in hopes that Smith could contain Carmelo Anthony. In a way, he did. But this meant that Monroe was able to start (as many believe he should) at power forward. He did not waste his opportunity.
Monroe was tied for the team lead with Smith in shot attempts and was efficient, going 8-for-17. He lead the team in time played at 35 minutes and change. He was also pretty silky from the charity stripe, getting there eight times and hitting seven of them. Greg also grabbed the Windex to clean the glass, grabbing 18 boards, including six on the offensive end. Monroe finished with 23 points; 16 in the paint, and six on second-chance points. Here's his beautiful shot chart.
Notice how he sticks to his strengths. Yes, he tested the waters with that one 19-foot shot, but that's it. Like a moose stays in the woods (woodsen), Monroe stays in the paint.
Monroe currently (albeit with a two-game sample size) leads the league in rebounding at 14.5 per game. He's also tied for third with Anthony Davis in offensive rebounding at 5.0 per game. Now, it does help that New York missed 51 shots and Detroit missed 55. Monroe grabbed 17.0 percent of the total available rebounds for the day.
Again, small sample size aside, Monroe is more aggressive on the offensive end this year. Last year Greg averaged 12.4 field-goal attempts (at a .497 clip) and 4.5 free-throw attempts (at a .657 clip). This year he's averaging 14.5 field-goal attempts (at a .517 clip) and 6.5 free-throw attempts (at a .846 clip).
Now, there's something to be said about this being his contract year. Many players seem to perform better in a year when they are about to be a free agent the coming summer. However, this isn't something new for Moose. He had regressed some in his third year due to Andre Drummond's emergence. He had regressed even further last year due to Josh Smith's presence (how I wish I could say emergence). I think Monroe has finally put it in his mind that he should let neither of them affect how he plays, and that he means as much to this team as anyone.
Next summer, Moose is going to make a lot of money. I'm hoping the signature on the check belongs to Tom Gores.