When the Boston Celtics picked up Greg Monroe back in early February, fans were excited to see if a classic big man could succeed under head coach Brad Stevens.
Stevens is known for running a lineup that consists of versatile, quick, defensive-minded players who can switch and guard multiple positions with ease.
Going back to when Stevens first signed with a rebuilding Celtics squad, fans saw anybody that didn’t fit this description fail time and time again. Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson are the most prominent examples, but we have yet to see a more talented big man strive to fit into the puzzle. That is until Monroe jumped aboard and tried making it work despite the doubt and disastrous track record of slow centers on the Celtics.
The 6-foot-11 behemoth got off to a slow start but was given a pass due to jumping into an already established team. It was going to take some time for him to figure it all out, but the team was fighting for wins so his minutes were cut as soon as they were given.
When he finally did start getting a little more action on the court, it was obvious how he could be a key piece to some teams, but not for the Celtics. Monroe’s inability to show lateral quickness and be any sort of threat outside of five feet from the rim dragged down everyone around him.
Furthermore, the Georgetown University product has never been known as a quality passing big, so Monroe quite literally brought nothing besides the occasional rebound to the table.
Even Aron Baynes, who is built nearly identically to Monroe, was able to find a niche and fulfill it to a high standard. Baynes also stretched his role along with his range in the playoffs, going 11-of-23 from downtown after only attempting one career playoff three-pointer.
Ultimately, what separates a player like Baynes and Monroe is the pick-and-roll pop threat that Baynes harnesses. It at least makes him somewhat of a weapon on the offensive end, and defensively he was able to hold his own more often than not when the opponent forced a switch.
Monroe recently joined forces with the reigning top seed in the East, the Toronto Raptors. This will be his fourth team in the past two seasons, where Nick Nurse will try to revive the player that we saw during Monroe’s time in Detroit.