Greg Monroe was the first player to hit the market during buyout season and ultimately landed with the Boston Celtics. The C’s were able to secure Monroe’s services with the injured player exception they received when Gordon Hayward went down for the season on the first day of the year. The Celtics had an open roster spot to use with that exception and decided Monroe was their guy. Monroe officially clears waivers on Saturday when he can officially sign the one-year, $5 million contract with the Celtics.
Boston had some competition to land Monroe as the Pelicans were heavily involved in the sweepstakes. New Orleans gave Monroe the chance to start now that DeMarcus Cousins has been lost for the season. A chance to start for his hometown team nonetheless. However, Monroe chose Boston who is in win now mode and currently holds the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. How does Monroe’s addition impact Boston moving forward for the rest of the season?
The Celtics are one of the best team’s in the NBA defensively but do struggle to score at times. Boston’s scoring woes become even more apparent when Kyrie Irving and Al Horford head to the bench as the team’s second unit hasn’t generated much offense all year. Boston ranks 17th in total offense scoring 104.8 points per game. If Boston can improve their scoring prowess, the Celtics could be deadly as they are the only team in the NBA that holds their opponents to under 100 points.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2018
Monroe gives the C’s the second unit thump they need. Since leaving Milwaukee for Phoenix in the Eric Bledsoe deal, Monroe has averaged 11.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Monroe is also a really efficient player shooting .626 percent from the field over 23.3 minutes per game with the Suns. Monroe is a little deficient defensively but Boston is so strong on the perimeter that his defense isn’t too concerning. When you have Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown, Boston isn’t allowing drives on every possession anyway.
It’s also fair to say that Monroe has plenty of room to improve with the Celtics. Monroe’s game is constructed more around posting up close to the basket rather than setting screens in the pick-and-roll that Boston mainly runs. Monroe has set 40.1 screens per 100 possessions this season with the Suns. Daniel Theis, for example, has a rate of 55.2. The Celtics always seem to have great floor spacing so Monroe’s passing ability is also something that functions well within the Brad Stevens system.
Boston’s current front-court options include the likes of Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Daniel Theis. Monroe will now be the best pure rebounder of that group. The Celtics are a middle of the pack team in rebounding ranking 14th in the NBA despite being the best pure defensive team. Monroe is going to make a huge difference carving out an extra possession or two the C’s wouldn’t normally have. Frankly, if you’re going to task any coach with mixing and matching the rotation, there’s no better man to do it than Brad Stevens.
You can question whether Monroe was the best use of the player exception. Some other buyout candidates could include Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Al Jefferson, and others. Danny Ainge has always been a fan of Monroe as now it’s time to ponder who else could be on the Celtics radar. Lou Williams and Tyreke Evans could be options but Terry Rozier has blossomed latley putting up two 30-point games. Both Williams and Evans are pure rentals and Ainge has always been stingy forking over draft picks. Nevertheless, Monroe alone might be the piece that cements the Celtics as favorites in the East. Oh, by the way, there’s always hope that Gordon Hayward might come back as well?