As recently as last season, Bucks’ backup center Greg Monroe was a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year Candidate, providing his team with a consistent back-to-the-basket presence. One who could go up and under with the footwork of a ballerina, Monroe began to come off the pine, while still getting 20-plus minutes per game, around the All-Star Break in 2016. He was drafted as a member of the Detroit Pistons nearly eight years ago, to be another incarnation of Al Jefferson — perhaps better on the defensive side of the ball — possessing an elite offensive, close-range skillset and average rebounding ability.

Signed to be the third guy, after Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, in Milwaukee’s scoring department, after arguably being the Bucks’ biggest free agent in franchise history, the former Georgetown Hoya will now be sidelined for 2-3 weeks with a left calf injury, according to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This comes as bad news for the team, from an optical standpoint, after the big man exercised his $17.9 million option. Statistically speaking, however, he won’t necessarily be missed, given that coach Jason Kidd has allocated more minutes to rising star Thon Maker, as well as two reserves, Mirza Teletovic and John Henson.

The currents have reversed course, as only one season ago, Monroe, equipped with dreamshakes and killer pivots, was second to Antetokounmpo on the team in Win Shares (5.6) and PER (21.1), which is significant for anyone, let alone a bench player. With the pacing of the Association growing with every week it seems, and the expectation that big men can showcase plenty of shooting range, the oft-injured Monroe has become overshadowed by the league ethos. That’s not to say there’s no room for him on this team, but it’s hard to imagine with Giannis playing “Hero Ball” and the volume-scoring, yet somewhat-shaky, presence of Khris Middleton.


Regardless of whether or not the Bucks are in contention by the season’s midway point, there is a real possibility the team could try to package Monroe, who is bound for unrestricted free agency this upcoming offseason, for another proven player, one who could fit into this year’s rotation. Rashad Vaughn and John Henson ate up the minutes normally assigned to Monroe in the Bucks’ 117-106 win against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Monroe has become irrelevant in the frontcourt, averaging career lows in points (6.8), rebounds (5), and minutes (15.8). He can’t run the floor, nor can he stretch it, like Thon Maker, or Giannis, who has logged minutes at the five before. Henson is a superior defender and offensive rebounder – two much-needed traits while the Bucks find a consistent number-two plug, offensively. Also, rookie D.J. Wilson could also get some more run at the front-court positions, while Monroe is sidelined. Perhaps he comes back with a bang in mid-November, while the front office and coaching staff feed the veteran more minutes, but, until then, it seems as though the best version of Greg Monroe has left Milwaukee.


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