Wednesday night's 96-85 victory marked the eighth straight double double for Pistons center Greg Monroe. At halftime Monroe had already recorded a double double, and by game's end he had 16 points and 18 rebounds. To put the magnitude of Monroe's achievement into perspective, Grant Hill was the last Piston to have that many consecutive double doubles in a single season. Hill had 10 straight double doubles in 1996. It's an impressive feat, but one can't help noticing that six of Monroe's double doubles have come with Jose Calderon running the point.
So we ask, how much of Monroe's scoring is thanks to Calderon? Turns out, Calderon should be thanking Monroe just as much.
Understanding that the points in the paint battle is usually a game decider, Calderon makes it his mission to get the low-post involved early in games. But while some big men have trouble passing out of the post once the basketball makes to the block, the Pistons have one of the league's best passing big men in Greg Monroe. The result has been a reciprocal relationship between Monroe and Calderon that has helped both players become the two most consistent Pistons on the floor.
In the six games that Calderon has played with the Pistons, he's dished out 42 total assists. Among those 42 assists, 31% have ended with a Monroe make in the paint or at the high post. Excluding Monroe's points from the free throw line, he's tallied 88 points from the field over the last six games. 26 of those points, or 29% of them, have come directly off of Calderon assists.
Monroe may be receiving a lot of offense thanks to Calderon, but the third year big man isn't selfish. Over the same six-game span with Calderon, Monroe has thrown out 21 total assists with 11 of those assists ending in a Calderon make. That means 52% of Monroe's assists have been to Calderon. The numbers describe a guard-to-big combination that has the potential to develop into a cornerstone for the Pistons offense.
Many of Monroe's assists have been tallied after a Calderon three-point make. Calderon has scored 90 points since joining the Pistons, and 29 of those points have come off Monroe assists. More impressively, 21 of those Monroe-to-Calderon points have come on 12 three-point makes. It's becoming an established offensive set: Calderon throws it to Monroe in the high post, Monroe draws his defender in, Calderon cuts around the arch, Monroe faces up to the basket and either takes his man or finds Calderon for an open jump shot.
As much criticism has been thrown towards the slow progress that Brandon Knight has been showing alongisde Calderon, it's easy to forget about what is working on this post-trade Pistons team. The numbers tell the story, the Calderon-to-Monroe and Monroe-to-Calderon connection is one of the best options the Pistons have on offense.