He's been a topic of interest lately. Holding at about 15/9 on the season so far at 61% TS.
Looks to be doing a really good job at just about everything offensively, though he could stand to produce more off of OREBs.
I'm unimpressed with his jumper and apparently, so is he, since he seems very hesitant. Haven't seen him looking all that good when he chooses to face up, either. I have, however, been particularly encouraged by his movement without the ball; he seems to do a pretty good job moving around the court, setting screens and so forth. I'm also reasonably impressed with his footwork.
I've seen him using a variety of pivots, including a clever inside pivot, to set up his drives. Once he gets all the way to the rim, he's actually finishing very well, nearly 70% FG. It's the shorter hooks and stuff on which he's coming up short, well below positional average in his ability to finish there. That will probably change eventually, because he's setting up some good looks. His drives from the elbow and from the low and midpost outside of the key are good, he's effectively getting into the paint, he's just struggling to finish once he gets there unless he gets point blank.
Running with the idea of his footwork, he's got a nice reverse spin. Saw him do it against Hibbert in the Indiana game. Posted deep on the left side (again noting the good late movement to get position) and then made a late cut off of a rub screen to get position down low. Drove towards the rim, then countered around to the key side and actually should have drawn a foul but still made the off-hand righty hook. That was a good move, all under control, and all set up by footwork.
Another possession showed him floating in the top half of the circle, calling for the ball-handler to go right so he could set up a screen on the crossover, which he did. Then he used the roll to gain post position on the right side. Drove to the key, countered to the baseline, then countered BACK to the key for the hook. It was a really pretty move and Amundson was just screwed trying to guard it. Again, Monroe sets things up with clever off-ball movement later in the clock to get good, deep position. The Pistons guards helped him out by swinging the ball and dumping it into the post, which was nice to see.
He had a move against Boston where he was posted right side, floated to the middle and received a low bounce pass that he turned into a righty hook. The Pistons guards generally seem to be sending good entry passes and Monroe is consistently getting good position, which is why he's getting good looks. Honestly, on offense, the only things he doesn't appear to be doing well are making defenses pay for allowing him to take his jumper and drawing fouls. The latter is at least in part to lack of respect from the refs. The former, well, he needs to work on that. Nothing crazy, he doesn't need to be taking 20-footers, but he does need to have a reliable J out to around 15 feet so he can make that FT line shot or those baseline shots. Call them the "Kurt Thomas Specials," if you will. Three spots on the court, not even seriously diverse. If he can add 17-footers on the wing, he can become a pick-and-pop artist as well, which is another way to get his offensive grove, especially because Monroe isn't monstrously tall compared to his peers at the 5.
But what to take away so far is that against Indiana, he was running a clinic on how to get open in the post by crossing the key and off of high screens. He was also getting open by just fighting for space on the block, but really only Shaq did that as his primary way to get open as a result of his power. Monroe's showing really good fundamentals there, and he's doing a lot of scoring just by getting good position within the key for a pass to a quick shot attempt within 10 feet of the bucket and even right at the rim. He's also showing the ability to quickly pivot to a face-up and drive at the rim when he makes the catch too far out to back down (because he doesn't have the power to really do that), and eventually he'll start drawing fouls when he gets bumped on those. And eventually, the refs will call a goaltend or two when the ball is hanging on the rim and David West swats it away, but that's another story...
I think something somewhat under-appreciated about Monroe is that he has a pretty nice first step. That drive is going to be sort of sneakily effective for a while, because I don't think a lot of people look at him and how he moves and expect him to be that quick. He gets low and moves quicker than you'd think as a result. He's basically 6'10 in socks (6'9.75) and so he's essentially a 6'11 player on the court, but that step is pretty fast. The book on him coming out was that his athleticism was average, but I'm not seeing that from him, he looks pretty good. Certainly not Dwight-level, of course, and his leaping ability isn't anything to write home about (likewise his wingspan), but that footspeed is definitely above-average. Plus, at 250-ish, he's pretty solid and he was one of only 12 guys to do the bench press at the combine 15+ times, and those shoulders show it.
Anyway, he's got some clever footwork, a good understanding of how to attack the basket and what appears to be an advanced understanding of off-ball movement. I don't expect him to maintain 61% TS all year, but I would expect him to continue to produce as a scorer and I actually don't expect the TS% to drop THAT much. Most of his shots come from at the rim (over half, as a matter of fact) and he's going to continue finishing those very well, so that FG% will remain high.
I'll be watching to see how his offense bears out over time, but he looks pretty good. Confident, assertive, staying within a simple scope of game and the guards on his team are doing a good job looking for him. Especially if Jerebko keeps helping to open up the interior and in particular if Gordon, Knight and Prince keep hitting at 36%+ from three, he's going to have the space to keep doing exactly what he's been doing. I'm definitely liking what I see.
Credit to TZ.