Monroe had close look at Drummond's development
Auburn Hills -- Greg Monroe could have predicted the emergence of Andre Drummond. He saw Drummond as a budding star during daily practice sessions when Monroe played for the Pistons last season.
Drummond was being fed this new game by coaches behind the scenes at the Pistons' practice facility. And Monroe got a front-row seat during practice. Now Drummond has unleashed all his fury on the NBA, averaging 18.6 points and 16.7 rebounds heading into Friday night's game against the Bucks at The Palace.
Monroe is excited for Drummond, even though he is now an opponent. Monroe left the Pistons during the offseason, signing a free-agent contract with the Bucks, where he is viewed as an important leader, while averaging 15.7 points and 9.4 rebounds. He was a leader with the Pistons, as well, although his duties are more intense this season because Monroe went from a young team to one that is even younger.
Monroe, 25, needed a fresh start and so did the Pistons. Although he is one of the better young big men in the league, Monroe didn't fit in the Stan Van Gundy system, where the coach wants a big man in the middle and shooters on the perimeter.
There are no hard feelings. In fact, he helped mentor Drummond and is glad his hard work is paying off.
"He is a great guy; we have a friendship," Monroe said of Drummond. "I definitely tried to help him as much as possible. And I definitely learned some stuff from him. I'm happy to see the growth he has shown this year. Everything he is doing is great.
"He has always had extraordinary athletic ability, especially at his size," Monroe said. "The tools are there, having a low-post game. He worked on it every day."
Bucks coach Jason Kidd hears analysts try to break down Drummond's game, but sometimes it simply comes down to a guy who is big, strong and motivated.
"He's playing at a very high level, playing very hard" Kidd said. "In this game we tend to overanalyze things (but) when you give the effort you are successful. His fingerprints are all over the game."
Monroe said the game plan to slow Drummond is simple yet difficult to execute.
"Don't give him angles," Monroe said. "Make him work as far from the basket as possible. When he is in the lane, that is when he gives you problems."
Monroe is making his mark with the Bucks. His 50.4 shooting percentage is his highest in four seasons. Kidd relies on him on the court and in the dressing room.
"Him being a professional on and off the court, it's something he takes pride in, being a leader for a young team," Kidd said. "He's playing hard and having a fine season."
Said Monroe: "I try to be an example on the court and off the court and help any way I can. I am comfortable here. I think guys are comfortable with me, just as I try to communicate with them they communicate with me."
Monroe spent five seasons with the Pistons but never made the playoffs. It is one of the big regrets of his time here. He even talked to veterans around the league and asked what it was like to be in the playoffs. The Pistons were 145-249 with Monroe in their lineup.
"I wanted to be successful here," Monroe said. "I loved the fans. I loved the city. I definitely wish we had won here. The organization was great. I was grateful for them for drafting me. No matter who you are they are taking a chance when they draft you. I don't take that for granted. This will always have a special place in my heart."