Monta, Gone But Not Easily Forgotten
When the Golden State Warriors selected Monta Ellis in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft straight out of Lanier high school, few truly knew what to expect out of the young guard. If he could perhaps one day be a rotation player,that would be perfectly fine given that he wasn’t a lottery pick and thus no big expectations would be placed on him.
His debut season may have had a few bumps in the road, but by his second NBA campaign, he established himself as a relatively efficient scorer, playing off of great players to get open looks and cut to the basket for some sensational finishes at the rim as the Dubs surprised many by making the postseason and taking down the top seeded Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the 2007 playoffs.
After flashing tons of potential as well as a knack for scoring the ball — a skill that typically gets NBA players compensated rather well — the Dubs rewarded their second round pick with a lucrative six-year $66 million contract only to find out that later in the offseason he had put himself in harms way by getting into moped accident. Making matters worse, Ellis actually tried to cover it up for the team for fear that his contract would be voided.
Ellis eventually recovered and managed to play 25 games during the 2008-09 season and put up 19 points per game.
In the two ensuing seasons, Ellis led the league in minutes per game and saw his scoring average rise in conjunction. During the same timeframe, the Warriors brought in a young guard out of Davidson by the name of Stephen Curry to play point guard for the team.
Although the backcourt provided tons of excitement and always gave the impression that they would one day play perfectly in concert, it was merely a dream. Indeed, Ellis liked to have the ball in his hands to make plays while Curry was a terrific shooter but still the team’s point guard; which meant that he would also need the ball in his hands. The newcomer essentially had to take a step back and often deferred to his more experienced backcourt mate to the point that Steph at times became invisible during games.
The Davidson product would bring the ball up, pass it to Ellis on the wing, run to the corner and watch Monta isolate his defender and try to create a scoring opportunity for himself or a teammate. What made matters worse was that Ellis oftentimes looked quite impressive playing off the ball with Curry orchestrating the offense but those instances were few and far between.
Hence, a decision was made at some point that one of them had to go. Both were routinely exposed on defense and never truly gave the impression that they were a perfect match on offense although they theoretically should have been.
And that’s how the Warriors got to where they are today.
Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown were traded to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson; with SJax being flipped to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Richard Jefferson.
The move opened up some minutes for Klay Thompson and on the surface has made Stephen Curry the undisputed face of the franchise. He will probably get the praise and the blame for wins and losses the rest of the way; and will at times feel as though the whole weight of the franchise rests on his ankles.
But before we get to that point, let’s acknowledge and remember that Monta Ellis lit up the scoreboard earlier this season with an incredible 48-point effort and that last season he sent the Indiana Pacers off home as losers; drilling a beautiful jumper before time expired to give the Dubs a victory.
The Warriors may not have won much with Ellis in the lineup, but they sure as heck were entertaining as hell.
Thanks for the five and half seasons…
Let’s hope Milwaukee appreciates you much like the Bay did.
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