Timberwolves

Greg Monroe Brings Valuable Experience Heading Into the Play-In

Photo Credit: Nick Wosika (USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Timberwolves listened to their loyal fans and re-signed Greg Monroe to a contract for the rest of the season. The Detroit Pistons drafted Monroe seventh overall in 2010, and he’s become a journeyman center. Monroe has returned to Minnesota after a stint with the Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards, and Utah Jazz after two 10-days with the Wolves.

Minnesota’s decision to sign him to a full contract before the end means he will probably get minutes in the upcoming play-in because there’s only one regular-season game remaining.

Monroe, 31, comes onto to young team as the second-oldest player, trailing only Patrick Beverley (33). Monroe is playing for his ninth team in his ninth NBA season and had two stints with Milwaukee this year. He also spent time in Russia and Germany between 2019 and 2021. Therefore, Monroe has been around many different basketball atmospheres and has plenty of experience to offer an inexperienced Wolves team.

Monroe brings playoff experience to this young bunch. He ranks second on the team in playoff appearances with 27 games, behind only Beverley’s 59 games. Even if he is only sitting on the bench for the vital games, he’s another veteran presence on the road, in the locker room, and around the young bigs.

How will Monroe slot into the rotation? Monroe is an interesting player in today’s game. He is a back-to-the-basket big with a limited defensive presence, but he possesses size. Monroe is tied with KAT as Minnesota’s tallest player (6’11”) and is heavier than any other player on the roster (265 lbs.).

While he will not provide lockdown defense, the Wolves can have him body up larger opponents. Naz Reid has struggled with this lately. Larger centers have dominated him, and teams use his undersized height to feed the big and go on large runs when KAT is out. The Wolves are wise to have more insurance and options when KAT is in early foul trouble, especially someone who has experience in the organization.

Monroe fits exceptionally well within Minnesota’s offensive scheme. His shooting doesn’t match Naz or KAT’s ability, but he can easily operate out of the high post. That was on display against Boston, where he continuously found open cutters from the high post and helped execute the offense. It’s also something that Monroe does better than Naz. In general, Monroe is much more polished on the offensive side of the ball.

Signing Monroe gives the Wolves a lot of flexibility. If Reid struggles overall in KAT’s stead, Chris Finch can plug him in when KAT is on the bench. Naz typically has rotational minutes at the beginning of the second quarter and the start of the fourth quarter. The Dallas Mavericks game was an excellent example because KAT stayed out of foul trouble.

In the perfect world, Reid only plays 10-12 minutes a game, giving Towns around 36-38 minutes in important games. Things haven’t gone as planned, though. KAT has had a lot of foul trouble early, forcing Naz to play more minutes than usual – roughly 18 to 20 per night. Without Monroe, the Wolves have only one player who can step in for KAT.

The Wolves will likely play the Los Angeles Clippers in the play-in, meaning they will face an undersized team. The Clippers have two centers, Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein, and they typically will play whoever does the best in their first stint heavier minutes in the second half. That puts the Wolves in an excellent situation to play a cat and mouse game, mimicking LA with Monroe and Naz. Play the matchup advantages regarding the opposing team’s personnel and adjust accordingly.

If the Wolves go on to the playoffs, they will have even more time to maximize adding Monroe for the better of the team. You can never never be at a disadvantage with your backups when you have multiple options to cover a point of weakness.

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