BOSTON – Greg Monroe is a low-post, back-to-the-basket scorer who is a willing passer but doesn’t have the deep, long-range shooting touch that’s becoming more common among today’s NBA big men.
But the big fella has skills, the kind that should be on display more often as he becomes more familiar with the Boston Celtics' system.
Tuesday was an important step in that process with Monroe going through his first practice with the Cltics.
Boston acquired the 6-foot-11 center on Feb. 8, just days after he was bought out by the Phoenix Suns.
“It felt good to practice,” Monroe said. “It was good to get some reps, get some good reps at learning the offense, communicating on defense with the guys game speed but not in a game.”
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Monroe has already appeared in three games for Boston, averaging 4.0 points, 5.0 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.
The 6-foot-11 center has been picking up the nuances of the Celtics' system at a pretty good clip, but said getting the offensive stuff down has been the bigger challenge.
“Defensively, it’s pretty easy picking up rotations, communications … the language you use is pretty universal,” Monroe said. “Even if the call may be different, it’s still the same positioning that I’m used to so that’s not really hard.”
It’s still early, but his new teammates like what they have seen thus far.
“More than anything with Greg, he’s a veteran. He knows what to do," said Boston's Al Horford. "He has a very good feel for the post. For me, I’m going to try and help him defensively and on offense, anything I see that can help our team and help him … but he’s picked up our offense pretty quickly. He’s a very smart player. He’s on top of a lot of things.”
One of the keys to Monroe being on the fast track in learning the Celtics' system, has been assistant coach Jay Larrinaga. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens assigns all players an assistant coach to work with throughout the season.
“He’s been a huge help,” Monroe said of Larrinaga. “Just getting me up to speed, learning the plays, telling me what certain guys like, what Brad expects of me.”
And those expectations have been pretty clear.
Stevens wants Monroe to be Monroe, a big man who can score in the post, find teammates if they are open and maybe most important, contribute to the culture of winning which has the Celtics (40-18) firmly entrenched as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
And for Monroe, Tuesday’s practice – his first with the team – was a great first step in that process.
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