Being drafted 10 minutes apart has a way to make two ballplayers inextricably linked to one another, as is the case with 2010 draftees Greg Monroe and DeMarcus Cousins.

Both express a respect for the other, as players and as people, despite their obvious difference in persona.

"It's definitely a mutual respect," Cousins said. "I know I always want to have a good game against Greg and I'm pretty sure he'll say the same thing. We're always in the same conversations. We're just very competitive."

Last year, Monroe abused Cousins in Sacramento on his way to a then-career high 32-point, 11-rebound game and earlier this season, registered his first career triple-double.

This season, their stats have been virtually even — Monroe's 15.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists to Cousins' 16.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists. Tuesday, Monroe went for 18 points and 11 rebounds while Cousins had 21 points and 14 boards.

"I don't like being compared to anybody but it just happens," Cousins said. "I don't take any disrespect being compared to Greg. He's a good player in this league. Very underrated player today."

Monroe denies any notion of a rivalry but anyone with a set of eyes can see there's a little extra juice whenever those two are on the floor together.

"I wouldn't say that, I know he's always playing to win and so am I," Monroe said. "You guys continuously link us. That's something we can't avoid but I know he's doing what's best for his team and so do I.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130102/SPORTS0102/301020342#ixzz2GpAqemdX