Former-Georgetown forward, Greg Monroe was supposed to be the next great Hoya big, while the talented Tar Heel, Ed Davis was supposed to carry North Carolina to yet another postseason a year after losing Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. Monroe never put it all together and North Carolina made it to the finals- the NIT Finals, not the NCAA Tournament Finals. Both possess immeasurable talent, but are perhaps still overshadowed by their flaws. NBA-Draft.com takes a look at these two Top 10 players.
At times, Monroe shed a label cast upon him that he didn't always play with great intensity or aggressiveness. He didn't have the desire to dominate. Let the front offices say what they want about Monroe, but he is a proven top talent. At 6'11", 250-pounds, he has the size and length that these same GMs want for a starting forward man. He was by-far-and-away the most skilled big in the country this year with an excellent IQ to match his unselfishness. He is the best passing forward in the draft, possessing the court awareness to fight through double-teams to find an open teammate or a guard cutting to the rim. Despite the chatter against him, Monroe showed a strong back-to-the-basket game, using a variety of finesse moves to score not just around the rim, but really from 12-feet/high-post area and in.
In his two seasons with the Hoyas, Monroe put up averages of 14.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists per game, but he also chipped in with 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per night. Without ever really dominating, he quietly produced. He did so in an offense that was fit to display Monroe's passing skills and team play and not so much his mid-range jumper or low-post game. Every once in a while, Monroe would take over a game during a short stretch, knocking down an open 3-pointer, threading a difficult pass through traffic or dominating the glass and running the open floor, but he seemed content at falling back into the rhythm of the offense and scouts knock him for this. But with guards like Austin Freeman and Chris Wright by your side, its difficult not to pass the ball to them and watch them operate. It's teammates like these that helped him rack up 21 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists against Rutgers and tally 12 assists in a close battle with Providence.
While some scouts love his unselfish team play, others see a talented player without an aggressive, scoring mentality and average athleticism. With his ball-handling skills, court vision and ever-developing offensive repertoire, he would be a solid fit with any team and is a lock for the Top 9, sliding to Utah at the very worst.
In the opposing corner, there is Ed Davis. Had he declared for the Draft last season, the former Tar Heel likely would have been a top selection again. He is a big man with great upside who delivered at the end of his freshman campaign and began to show glimpses of his talent during UNC's non-conference schedule before breaking his wrist. The injury didn't require surgery and did little to severely limit Davis' stock, but it did cause him to miss 14 games in the 2009-10 season.
Without a dominant point guard like Ty Lawson feeding him the ball and with Deon Thompson by his side in the post, Davis, like Monroe, did not take over games as expected. His offensive game proved to be quite raw still, but its his motor, length and rebounding and shot blocking that have Davis as a coveted commodity. In 27 minutes per game, he corralled about over 9 rebounds per game and redirected almost 3 shots a game; he was a defensive force at times while staying on the court and of foul trouble.
Despite not dominating, the 6'10, 225-pound forward is in the mix anywhere from Sacramento at no. 5 and Toronto at no. 13, though likely to stick on somewhere in the top ten. He's not the most polished player and will need some more time to mature physically and add strength, but he is an athletic big man, who is active on the glass and has a nose for the ball.
With Monroe's bigger size (6'11", 250 pounds) and longer wingspan, a lot of teams a pegging him to be able to play center at the next level, as opposed to the more wiry Davis, who will be outmatched against the bigs of the NBA. Offensively, at this point in their careers, the former-Georgetown forward is way more gifted, but defensively, Davis has the slighter edge due to his greater athleticism. Both players may take plays off and lack that aggressive, killer instinct, but the talent and skills are there to become a very good future pro. With the character concerns of DeMarcus Cousins scaring off some teams, we might even see Davis or Monroe slide to the Kings at no. 5 or Golden State at no. 6. Either way, Monroe will be the pick over Davis. He is further along offensively, while also possessing the talent and size to start and contribute much sooner than Ed Davis. Look for Monroe to get picked up somewhere in the top seven or so, while Davis won't be far behind as a likely top ten selection.