It has been an embarrassing season for the New York Knicks, and fans in New York are desperate for a quick turnaround. With the looming return of Carmelo Anthony, a high draft pick and plenty of cap space, the Knicks could have a bounceback next season if everything breaks right.
A lot of the Knicks’ fortunes next season will depend on whether or not Phil Jackson signs the right free agents for the team. This weekend, several rumors surfaced on the possibility of signing Pistons big man Greg Monroe. While Monroe may seem enticing, signing him would be a disaster for the Knicks.
For starters, the Knicks are one of the worst teams in the lottery and have a good chance of getting a top three selection. If the Knicks end up taking Jahlil Okafor, Monroe would be rendered obsolete.
One would hope the Knicks would have enough sense to not sign Monroe if Okafor falls in the team’s lap, but you can’t be sure with that organization. Okafor projects as a better version of Monroe, a monster in the post with the vision to pass out of double teams. But the two couldn’t play defensively or offensively next to each other. Although Okafor has a decent mid-range stroke, he’s most effective near the basket, and Monroe has taken just 61 shots outside of the paint this season, per Vorped.com. The two would be getting in each other’s way constantly, and opponents would pack the paint against a lineup with Okafor and Monroe in it.
Defensively, the team would be even worse. Monroe isn’t the type of big who can anchor a defense, but he has also been bad in traditional two-big lineups. In fact, Detroit’s defense has been worse defensively with both Monroe and Andre Drummond on the court than it has been with just Monroe, per NBA.com. Okafor is a traditional big who projects as a much worse defender than Drummond and would be best alongside a rim protector. Monroe doesn’t fit the bill there.
Even without Okafor and perhaps a selection of Karl-Anthony Towns, Monroe just isn’t a good fit in New York. He’s a bad defender who gets lost on defense time and time again. Watch this simple dribble handoff (via YouTube):
Monroe contains the penetration, but completely loses Kelly Olynyk rolling to the rim. This type of thing happens constantly with Monroe. New York has been one of the worst defensive teams in the league this year, and adding Monroe to the mix makes no sense.
It’s reasonable to assume that Anthony will help prop up the Knicks’ atrocious offense next year, but he’ll do nothing to help the defense. In fact, Anthony is probably best served playing power forward, since his strength allows him to do a serviceable job there defensively. But if the Knicks sign Monroe, Anthony will have to play small forward full time, since a Monroe-Anthony pairing at the rim would bleed points.
In addition to his obvious defensive deficiencies, Monroe is overrated offensively as well. Although he’s a good post player with good vision, he can’t shoot from outside at all, and isn’t particularly great near the rim, either. Of the 28 players who’ve attempted at least 400 shots within five feet this season, Monroe ranks 25th in field goal percentage at 54.8 percent, per NBA.com. He’s also a below-average scorer on shots from 5-9 feet, shooting only 37 percent. So, even in the areas he’s supposed to excel, Monroe hasn’t been exceptional this season.
If New York wants a good playmaker in the post (because the team insists on running an archaic offense), then it should just put Anthony there. Anthony is excellent at posting up, and it’s one of the few times he has shown effectiveness as a passer. Signing Monroe to be that player would be a disaster on both ends. Monroe is the type of player who needs to be in the right situation to be effective, and New York isn’t the right situation.