The Detroit Pistons have struggled to a 16-22 start this year despite making a series of significant moves in the off-season. In addition to trading for Brandon Jennings, they added the versatile Josh Smith in hopes of bolstering their front line. After playing most of his career at power forward, Smith was asked to play the 3 in Detroit as part of a gigantic front-line alongside Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. That experiment has been a disaster, so much so that the Pistons clearly need to make a move. Since Monroe will be a restricted free agent this summer in line for a big raise, he is the most likely Piston to be moved before the trade deadline. The Pistons need outside shooting and the Magic’s Arron Afflalo is the best on the market, but would a trade make sense for the Magic?
Detroit’s super big lineup has failed in part because of offensive spacing. All three of their bigs are most effective around the basket and have struggled with their outside shot. Josh Smith is shooting a dreadful 25.3% from behind the 3-point line and clearly should be moved back to power forward. Andre Drummond’s offensive game is limited to putbacks and dunks at this stage of his career, and despite being a skilled big-man, Monroe is a reluctant shooter outside the paint.
Would he be a better fit in Orlando? Nikola Vucevic is a decent mid-range shooter and could help space the floor around Monroe, but that is only a band-aid on a bigger wound. The real problem would lie with Tobias Harris. Harris has struggled with his shot this season, hitting only 20% of his 3’s and is much more effective when he plays as a stretch-4 instead of a big 3. Trading for Greg Monroe would force Harris to play small forward, recreating the Josh Smith problem from Detroit. Trading for Monroe would also mean giving up Afflalo, the Magic’s only outside threat. Their offence, ugly at times this season, would become downright unwatchable.
But the real downside to this trade would be on defense. Assume again that the Magic’s starting front court would be Harris/Monroe/Vucevic, a line-up that would have plenty of size, but dangerously little athleticism. When the Pistons have played the Smith/Monroe/Drummond line-up together, they have been out scored by 7.4 points per 48 minutes and have given up 110.2 points per 100 possessions. That number is dreadful, but the potential Magic line-up could be even worse. Smith is a much better defender than Harris, while Drummond is probably better than Vucevic at this point (Drummond is a much better shot blocker, but his positioning and instincts are still raw. Of course Vucevic’s best defensive skill can graciously be described as getting in the way). Monroe has great hands that lead to steals and tons of rebounds, but he brings little else to the defensive table. He is slow and doesn’t challenge shots, basically duplicating Vucevic’s weaknesses. (If you don’t believe me when I say Monroe is a poor defender, watch this highlight of Kendrick Perkins blowing by him. KENDRICK PERKINS!!!)
Despite all those reservations, Monroe is undeniably an asset. He’s only 23 years old, compared to Afflalo’s 28, and is still growing as a player. While trading for him may not make sense on the court, he is one of the most valuable assets the Magic could acquire for Afflalo (Afflalo alone may not be enough to get a deal done, but Joe Dumars might be the only GM dumb enough to still think Doron Lamb isn’t a bust) While I don’t think that’s enough reason to pull the trigger you could talk me into buying the move as the first in a series of eventual transactions. Ironically, Josh Smith would be a great fit alongside Vucevic, but he is 28 years old, too far along to help with this Magic rebuild.
What do you think? Should the Orlando Magic trade Arron Afflalo for Greg Monroe if given the chance? Let us know in the comments section below.