The world without enigma would be plain black and white. There would be no grey area, no color involved at all. There’d be no flavor or taste involved. No creativity, no questions, just answers. Everything would be simple, there would be no middle ground.
In the NBA, that’s what Monta Ellis represents to me. The middle ground. What is he exactly?
He’s not a point guard, but he has some point guard skills. He’s not a shooting guard, but he puts up shots like he is one. His job is strictly to create, in whatever way possible. Whether it be scoring or passing, he must create shots for his team. His objective is to get points on the board, just like every other NBA player correct? They all must do what they have to in order to score points and prevent the opposition from scoring. So what makes Monta so different?
Why is he different from every other scorer in the NBA? I’ll tell you why. Because he’s the epitamy of a combo guard. He can play both positions in some way shape or form. Regardless, he is creating for his teammates. He’s one of the top scorers in the league year after year, but he can never seem to get into the conversation of elite shooting guards of the leage.
Here’s the thing, he’s the 5th leading guard in PER with a score of 18.96. That’s about pace for an average NBA player. But get this, he’s behind Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili, and Kevin Martin who all posted above 20. He’s over Eric Gordon, Joe Johnson, Andre Iguodola (if you see him as a 2), and Ray Allen. That’s a pretty good crop of players if you ask me. It seems to me like we underestimate Ellis’ ability because of the team he plays for and the offense he is in.
Every time someone talks about the creme de la creme of shooting guards in the NBA (which is the position that Monta plays for his Warriors, even though he isn’t exactly that), Monta can never seemingly get into the conversation. I’m not here to say that he is or is not. I’m only here to get you, the reader, to speculate and determine what type of player he is.
I was working on my Kobe Bryant vs Dwyane Wade post earlier today, which I’ve yet to get to you guys, and when I looked at The Mamba’s scoring totals the first thing that popped into my head was Monta Ellis. If you compare their numbers, they look eerily similar don’t they?
When you look at the number of shots they put up per game, the number of makes they have, and their shot percentage they’re almost the same with the execption of a few points here and there. The only reason Monta isn’t up in PER with the likes of Bryant is because of his inability to get to the line as much as him and his lack of rebounding ability. That’s all. Kobe is also a better defender than Monta, but since when did defense really hamper a guys star quality? (Steve Nash, Gilbert Arenas in 08, Tony Parker; the list goes on)
Monta is without any All Star appearances, with no NBA 1st or 2nd team appearances, and no other awards on his shelf. Just a measly “you almost made the playoffs, champ” trophy each year it seems like. Yet, he seemingly has gone blow for blow in every statistic with the one of the leagues best players in Kobe Bryant. Even when they play head to head Monta has matched Kobe blow for blow at times, even in a losing effort.
That’s where his downside comes. You can’t really name a lot of combo guards who have the same playing style as Monta Ellis and have been on winning teams. You could say Allen Iverson, but he was a better passer than Ellis. If you compare Iverson’s 98-99 season with Ellis’ 2010 season they look almost identical. Iverson had a better handle of the ball and didn’t have to share the ball with Stephen Curry, so he probably had a bit more freedom than Ellis did, but you could say that their playing philosiphy is the same. Score first.
Monta has always been in an offense where you’ve got to get the ball up in about 12 to 14 seconds or less. If the shot clock was in single digits, you’re likely not getting a shot. That could be what is plauging Ellis and causing him not to win. The ball will stick to him at times, and he doesn’t trust the pass. That way, when the ball comes around to him, teams are easily able to bring a double team and he’ll put up a bad shot. Otherwise, I’m sure Ellis would be a more efficient scorer. That kink in his game is very damaging and it would seem that he needs a coach to do some damage control.
He went from taking 15 shots per game in 2008 to taking 20 shots per game in 2011 and scoring the same amount of points. I think that can be attributed to Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson playing on the team. Davis took 18 shots per game and Jackson took 15. I don’t know how Nelson made that 3 guard tandem work but he did. Even though they missed out on the playoffs, they finished 48-34 behind the NBA champ runner up Lakers and a powerful Phoenix Suns team in the Pacific Division. Its not like Monta has never won before, he just hasn’t gotten the same publicity as Bryant or Iverson would have. Part of that is because of how strong the west was, and part of it is because of his playing style.
If you can control Monta’s shots and get him to shoot a higher percentage by deffering to Curry more often, I think you can make that backcourt work. They must commit to the defensive end as a team a teeeeny bit more, but if they ever do the Warriors can definitley do damage. Curry is coming into his own as one of the top 15 point guards in the league. Monta can play off of that like he did in 2008. He must understand shot control and he must understand what a good shot is.
Until he does that, Ellis will always be one of the monst underrated overrated players in the league. The Middle Ground.