Sunday, February 10, 2008

Monta Ellis Doesn't Miss Much

I watch a lot of Warriors games and the guy that has impressed me the most of late is Monta Ellis. Stephen Jackson still does a lot of great things and Baron Davis can dominate at any moment, but Ellis is the guy keeping Golden State in the playoff hunt. His speed on the perimeter helps the Warriors play at such a fast pace despite the fact that Baron is often playing through injuries and Jackson looks like he's running on stilts at times. Ellis' rebounding is exceptional for a guard. He's becoming better and better at the drive-and-dish game and his D is picking up as well. Plus, last year's Most Improved Player is starting to become far more consistent.

All of that said, Ellis is so valuable to the Warriors primarily because he makes most of his shots. In an era of NBA hoops when guards can miss sixty percent of their shots and still get max deals, Ellis is an aberration. He is shooting almost 53% for the season (fourth among all players averaging at least 13 FGA's, behind only Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, and Kevin Garnett, and third among all guards, behind Ronnie Brewer and Jose Calderon) and doing it in every way imaginable. He's a fantastic finisher near the rim and excels at getting out in transition, but he's also become a deadly mid-range shooter - able to knock down jumpers off the catch or pulling up off the dribble. He might, in fact, have the best pull-up jumper in the league right now from 18 feet. Equally important is that he recognizes his strengths and eschews the three point shot. This is remarkable given both the culture of the modern game as well as the influence that his trigger-happy teammates have on him. Ellis' refusal to hoist threes (he's taken just 34 all year and two in 2008) has resulted in him getting better looks and (surprise, surprise) making far more of them.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Ellis' shooting touch is that it keeps improving. He started the year slowly, struggling to play without Jackson early and then dealing with some confidence issues. However, he shot 52% in December and since January 1st is shooting a whopping 58% from the field, which is Amare Stoudemire territory. And over the last three games he's gone a ridiculous 30-for-37, tallying 80 points on those field goal attempts. When's the last time you saw somebody do that?

Nobody is talking about Monta Ellis, but they should be. He's combining the speed and finishing ability of Tony Parker with the midrange game of Rip Hamilton and evolving into one of the game's premier offensive weapons. Over his last eight games Ellis is averaging 23 points on an incredible 64% shooting.

Don't let the playoffs sneak up on you before you take note of this rising young star.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had no idea. Nice post.

jenjoy said...

Way to go Hoffer!! You hit it on the head with the breakdown of the game!!!

B-Wallace