Why The NBA Underrated Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe, like all other elite basketball players, learned his game on the AAU circuit. Since the age of 12 or 13, he was playing in a loosely-coached fast-paced game where players were left to figure things out on their own.

In the same way that quarterbacks control the football by determining which receiver gets it, big men are at the mercy of their guards to feed them in the post. And the guards on Monroe's select teams undoubtedly had their own agenda; no one impresses a college scout with a post entry pass.

While a traditional low-post player like Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins was left to fester waiting to score against over-matched opponents, a skilled big like Monroe took the opposite approach. If the guards wouldn’t give him the basketball, he would just take it himself.

That’s how a 6’10 sixteen-year old develops the ball-handling and passing skills of a wing player.

The perimeter-oriented play of Monroe in HS.

Extremely skilled big men love to show off that skill. Since everyone assumes it's easy for them to dominate through their size, they become ashamed of it. They can make things happen at 6'10 or 6'4, and they want to show the world they're not just brutes.

So Monroe became somewhat of a finesse player, averaging 4 assists a game and eager to set up his teammates with bullet passes and unerring court vision. So scouts began to wonder -- why wasn't this 6'11 guy dominating games through scoring? Was he not aggressive enough? Did he not have enough passion for the game?

In reality, he was a 19 year old growing into his body and unlearning the lessons of adolescence, all the while putting up excellent numbers at the highest level of college ball. According to ESPN's Draft Rater for College Players, Monroe ranks as fourth for projected PER as rookies, which doesn't even calculate Monroe's defensive value in playing the 4 and 5 positions with a 7'2 wingspan.

After passing a certain baseline of athleticism (i.e. the Omar Samhan test), never bet against size, skill and production when looking at college prospects. Just as Brook Lopez was the steal of the 2008 draft at #10, I have a feeling we'll be saying the same things about Monroe at #7.

Stay Casual, my friends.