In one of the most recent ESPN 5-on-5 pieces, five bloggers/writers were asked who the most overrated shooting guard in the NBA was. Three of the contributors to the piece selected Monta Ellis, citing him for his lack of efficiency and his volume shooting. Although that may be true, does it necessarily make Monta the most overrated off-guard in the league? Well some might beg to differ.
Monta Ellis is the primary option for the Golden State Warriors, on a team that last season was very trigger happy and lacked any kind of interior presence. Consequently, the Dubs routinely shot early in the shot clock and also fired away from 3-point territory with a lot of regularity.
The lack of interior help meant that teams designed their defenses to essentially load up on Ellis and cut off his driving angles thus relegating him to the perimeter. Granted, coach Smart often surrounded him with shooters in an effort to space the floor and give him driving angles but defenses typically closed off the angles and dared the Warriors to beat them from deep.
Knowing this, one would expect the Warriors star guard to have trouble creating scoring opportunities for himself. But that’s just it, he adjusted. In truth, his field goal percentage could have been better, but given the fact that he often got caught with the ball late in the shot clock and rarely got open looks, his marksmanship from the field is quite good. Also, let’s not forget that his diminutive frame (he is 6’3”), means that he should have trouble finishing at the basket around big men (think about it, Allen Iverson is considered to be the best finishing little man in the history of the league and his career field goal percentage is 42.5 percent), and yet he does a good job of converting from the field.
In addition to his scoring, the Golden State guard does a good job of creating scoring opportunities for others by attacking the basket and drawing most of the defensive attention.
With that said, Ellis is far from perfect as a player. He seems to view defense as an optional part of basketball, occasionally takes low percentage shots, makes bad decisions at times with the ball and has tendency to gamble for steals, which often leaves his teammates at a disadvantage. But do any of these make him overrated?
It would be tough at least from my standpoint to justify such a claim given his production and lack of accolades. No All-Star selection, no player of the week/months honors and no All-NBA selection last season. And yet, he compares favorably to other relatively big names that share his position. Have a look at the list (listed by PER):
*Salaries obtained from Hoopshype.
Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant represent the gold standard of active NBA shooting guards and Monta Ellis’ numbers compares favorably to theirs. Mind you, his low rebound totals, turnovers and fewer free throw attempts result in him taking a hit in his PER when compared against both elite guards.
Nonetheless, his efficiency still outranks that of Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala and Joe Johnson. Furthermore, his salary is similar to that of players with comparable talent. Ellis is clearly not on the same level as Kobe and Wade; but is it really blasphemous to say that comes in the second or third tier? I say no.
If there is one player that is truly not holding up his end of the bargain, and thus should qualify as overrated, it’s Joe Johnson. One day when commissioner duties will rest on my shoulders (so probably by the next NBA lockout in July 2021), a rule will be passed stating that a player’s salary cannot exceed his PER; specifically to avoid this kind of highway robbery (Kobe is exempt from this rule, because well he’s Kobe frikkin’ Bryant).
Monta Ellis is a shooting guard with a scorer’s mentality who has the ability to create shots for himself and his teammates, which occasionally allows him to take over ball games late. Look no further than his performances against the Pacers and the Kings last season for evidence.
Does that sound like a player that is overrated? Didn’t think so…