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2018-19 Player Preview: Greg Monroe, big man insurance

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The Moose is loose north of the border. What can the Raptors expect from the big man?

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors
I don’t know what’s going on here but these guys play together now.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

This player preview will fall on few eyes. It’s not Kyle Lowry’s. It’s not Kawhi Leonard’s. This is Greg Monroe we’re talking about, and there are plenty of Raptors fans who are apathetic towards this signing. Nevertheless, the Moose is loose.

So let’s dive into this. Who is Greg Monroe? Why is Greg Monroe? How is Greg Monroe?

Greg Monroe in 2017-2018

In his age-27 season (that’s right, Greg Monroe is younger than I think you thought he was), Monroe spent time with three teams in three different time zones. It was, as some people say, wild.

Beginning the season with Milwaukee as he worked his way through his expensive $50 million contract, he was moved to Phoenix in the Eric Bledsoe doesn’t wanna be here trade. Phoenix bought him out and Boston picked him up.

With his various homes providing varying opportunities for playing time, Monroe averaged 10.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 20.4 minutes per game over 51 games. I mention the assists because I feel like that could be important—Monroe has got the chops to be a good passer for Toronto.

Valanciunas Insurance

Quite simply, Greg Monroe isn’t going to play that much. Less simply, Greg Monroe’s role on the 2018-19 Raptors feels a little extra—I didn’t really want to say superfluous but it’s a good word for this. He’s an extra body, a big, who as the many television commentators like to say about these kinds of players will “bang down low”.

But he’s also a perfect fit for this role. His skill-set is well-suited to sliding into lineups for Jonas Valanciunas. And JV knows how awesome it will be for him to have another big man on board. Even with all of the attention from Media Day headed towards Kawhi’s laugh or Lowry’s coldish temperament, the Lithuanian big man had time to drop this gem.

“Yes, we had some battles before. He’s a tough guy,” he said about Monroe. “He never backs down, and I never back down, and now we have a chance to play together. So it’s fun. We can kick somebody’s ass.”

I’m now taking bets on whose ass they’ll kick.

The Three-Ball

One of my top three favourite things from offseason and/or Media Day video is the new skill someone’s developing. These days, it’s usually extended range. We saw when Valanciunas developed his shot from beyond the three-point line, demanding respect from opponents. And we may see it again this year; big bruiser Monroe’s going to try his hand at long distance.

Of note however, Monroe is 0-of-12 from three for his entire 8-year career.

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Some General Thoughts

I don’t know exactly how much of Greg Monroe we’ll see this season. The frontcourt minutes look to be split up amongst Jonas Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam—basically, if you’ve got some length, it’s possible Nick Nurse uses you in any given role—and that’s why we can’t quite count out Monroe. It’s crowded and Nurse likes to experiment, so maybe there’s more for Monroe to do than we thought?

He’s cheap, he’s good insurance on JV’s given play-style, and I think this last paragraph was far more long-winded than it needed to be.

With the Raptors rolling into the preseason, Greg Monroe will definitely have his chance to show off the 3, bang down low, and do what he does best. The preseason is Monroe’s audition for more minutes, so he should go out there and kick some ass. Not literally. I mean, like, have a cool dunk or grab a lot of rebounds.