It is OK if you do not know much about Greg Monroe. He is kind of a quiet guy to begin with, but playing for the 9-21 Pistons pushes him further into the shadows.
As the calendar turns to 2013, it might be time to see the improvement this third-year player is making and the growth coming from the multi-talented center. He already has his first career triple double, scoring 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a game against Sacramento in early November.
That game was very much a notice to the rest of the league that "Moose" is loose, and he is hoping to make his impact on the league.
"Greg has always been a very talented passer," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said in late November. "Greg has a very good offensive feel. I call him like a multiple tool player. He leads our break as well as anyone. He makes good decisions. He has point center-point forward qualities to his game. Very good passer. Has improved his shooting. Good ball handler. He is a very talented offensive player."
This year, Monroe is averaging a career high 15.6 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game. Monroe has a 25.4 percent usage rate and is posting an 18.8 PER. That is down from last year, but Monroe is still quietly a very productive player in this league.
His role has slightly increased this year as Detroit is slowly transitioning the offense to center around Monroe. So there is still a lot of growth for him to go as his per 36 minut numbers are down from last year when many thought he should have at least been given consideration for the All-Star team.
And, a reminder, it is just his third year in the league.
If you ask Monroe though, none of the individual accolades matter. When asked about his triple double and his emerging passing ability — Monroe has a career high 18.7 percent assist rate — Monroe was quick to point out that the team lost that game and that he would trade the individual recognition for victories at any time.
If anything, the triple double and all the individual success Monroe has is because his teammates are doing the right things and he is helping set them up. Monroe said if he is going to get to that mythical All-Star status, it will be because of his teammates.
"If I continue to play well and lean on my teammates and we can continue to get on the right track, then maybe," Monroe said of garnering All-Star consideration. "That’s not up to me. All I can do is control what I have to do to help my team win.
"We just need to continue to be more consistent defensively. Just playing with intensity and paying attention to detail for a full 48 minutes."
The NBA's new All-Star voting system for post players will hurt Monroe and his future chances at making the league's annual showcase. Among frontcourt players, Monroe is not in the top 10 and his All Star vote totals were not included in the first returns for All-Star voting. That puts him behind potential starter Kevin Garnett (15.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 19.3 PER), Anderson Varejao (14.1 PPG, 14.4 RPG, 22.2 PER).
Monroe's numbers are comparable to those potential All Stars.
That is the trick right now for Detroit. Monroe will not gain the attention his talent likely deserves until his team turns its record around.
Monroe is toiling quietly among the dregs of the NBA on a team without any notoriety. The Pistons have only one scheduled national TV appearance the rest of this season — against the Wizards, and that is likely to be changed and taken off the national TV schedule. The general fan will not likely see Monroe this season.
For another year, Monroe could remain the best-kept secret in the NBA.
"I think bit by bit (the league is uncovering Monroe)," Frank said. "You have to earn your right here. I think to earn true respect in this league, you have to be part of a winning team. That’s normally how it works in this league is that when you’re doing it and your team isn’t winning, it is not really looked upon in the same light as if it is impacting winning.
"For all of us, we have to do the things that impact winning. Greg has shown really strong growth from year one to year two and now going into year three, you see the progress and we have a very high ceiling for him."
Monroe is under contract through 2014 and so the Pistons have until then to turn things around and make the world notice Monroe and keep him from toiling in anonymity.