The Toronto Raptors have finally filled their 14th roster spot. According to Yahoo's Shams Charania, the franchise has agreed to a deal with free agent Greg Monroe, an eight-year veteran who will give the Raptors some much-needed depth at the center position.
Monroe is only three years removed from signing a $50 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, but is now viewed around the league as primarily a backup center. He split time coming off the bench with the Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics last season, and averaged career-lows in minutes (20.4), blocks (0.5) and steals (0.9), in addition to posting his lowest scoring average (10.3) since he was a rookie in 2010-11.
Even so, Monroe can bring a scoring punch off the bench for the Raptors. The 28-year-old has long been a dominant playmaker with his back to the basket, and last season was no exception. According to NBA.com, Monroe averaged 5.0 post touches per game in 2017-18, one of the highest rates in the league on a per-minute basis. While he used those touches to create some scoring for his teammates, he was far more likely to look for his own shot when catching the ball on the low block.
Monroe's go-to move out of the post is a hook shot with either hand. They represented almost a third of his field goal attempts on the season, and he converted 44.4 percent of those opportunities.
As successful at Toronto's bench mob was last season without a ball-dominant center, it won't hurt adding someone to the mix who can create his own shot when the game slows down.
Monroe is also a capable pick-and-roll scorer. He generated only 10.8 percent of his offence as the roll man in 2015-16 - the last time he was a full-time starter - but he ranked in the 63.9 percentile in scoring efficiency with 1.07 points per possession. He was much more efficient going up against second units in 2016-17, ranking in the 88.5 percentile with 1.23 points per possession.
His ability to make plays on the roll give him the tools to replace some of what Jakob Poeltl brought to the table last season when sharing the floor with Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright. The same goes for Monroe's success in the past as a cutter. Based on how frequently VanVleet and Wright drive, the two guards would benefit from sharing the floor with a versatile scorer around the basket.
The problem is Monroe doesn't bring much other than paint scoring. Having made only 12 shots outside of the paint last season, he isn't someone who can be expected to space the floor as a shooter. He's never been known as a defender, either. Not only has he averaged less than a block per game in his NBA career, opponents made 61.5 percent of their shot attempts when Monroe stood between them and 6-feet from the basket last season, putting him on the same page as Karl-Anthony Towns, Ryan Anderson and Dirk Nowitzki.
Poeltl, for comparison, allowed 51.2 percent shooting within 6-feet of the hoop.
Toronto isn't signing Monroe with the intention of him logging big minutes. Jonas Valanciunas will continue to start at center, and Nick Nurse will have the option of going small by playing OG Anunoby, Paskal Siakam and Serge Ibaka at power forward/center. Monroe would likely play limited minutes off the bench - perhaps in the 10-15 minute range - making him a decent pickup at this stage of the offseason for a team rounding out its roster.
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