As the Warriors end their improper fondling of relevance…
The Monta vs. Stephen debate is inexorable in a slump’s wake. And I can’t fight suck’s zeitgeist–it’s like watching your house flood as you wait in a puddle. This is a Curry endorsement.
Monta Ellis is talented, exciting and armed with compelling individual statistics. He’s leading Stephen Curry in PER, Wins Shares, Wins Produced, Tattoo Overlap, etc. The mid-range jumper evokes prime Rip Hamilton, the drives slash closeouts like early Iverson. I’m happy to absorb the show, every Oracle visit.
But Monta is last in team plus-minus, continuing a trend from last year. The oft-maligned stat isn’t alchemy–there is meaning in a nagging minus. A star just shouldn’t ride caboose in this category. Ever.
Curry isn’t exactly killing plus-minus, but that’s part of the problem: Steph’s a lot better with backcourt free reign. Saw it last year, but didn’t want to confess: He’s a different player with a team to run.
23.1 points, 8.3 assists
Those are Curry’s basic numbers from the 17 games Ellis missed in 09-10 (compare it to Curry’s 17 points and 5.9 assists overall). This production isn’t pace-adjusted and the Warriors didn’t exactly excel in those contests (6-11). Obviously, Monta missed more games later in the year–after Steph had found his weapons…and I’m sick of the caveats. They obscure a simple truth: Stephen Curry is more productive when Monta Ellis wears a suit.
I’ve heard “defense” cited as a reason for why Ellis bests Curry. Steph isn’t Rajon Rondo, but his failings in that facet have been greatly overstated. Many fans prefer Monta’s brand of D because it’s very active, visibly so, memorably so. Activity deceives. Though we’ve been conditioned to believe that defense is about effort, it’s buyoed by technique, awareness, and patience. Old teams tend excel on the defensive end, because it’s cerebral as brain surgery performed by flying brains. Ellis is often too inclined to gamble, too prone to be distracted by the rock.
Shown in these two frames, Monta gets over-zealous after an early steal on Rip Hamilton.
Ellis is so committed to creating turnovers that he often loses responsibilities. See below frames:
There are many examples of Stephen Curry’s defensive struggles, but I show this splice to convey an oft-spotted Ellis pattern, and he might be dragging in +/- due to this. Look, I love Monta Ellis, and I would never impugn his talent or competitive spirit. I’m just tired of this dilemma and how it envelopes Warriors chatter. Also, if the Dubs are this bad on account of a David Lee injury, the current backcourt tandem might not be as dangerous as we thought. And I would bet on a future Stephen Curry to contribute more wins than a future Monta Ellis.