In the wake of losing out on Chris Paul and “winning” Kwame Brown: What can be done to improve a retread roster? NBA teams either become contenders through sweeping vets-for-youth trades (KG for Al Jefferson), or incrementally via lottery success (OKC). Neither path is available to GSW right now. Amundson-for-Rush is the kind of deal that happens in mediocrity’s vacuum–whether it improves or hurts GSW hardly matters because they’re so far from contention, and so far from a No. 1 pick.

The Warriors will soon touch the cap like scalp to fitted. The Goose is still on the books, a (planned) Stephen Curry extension should erase whatever savings they squirrel away. In theory, these Dubs are frighteningly overspent and undertalented. There is no hope, no future, and nothing to keep Curry from the teeming cosmopolitan dreamscape that is Charlotte, North Carolina.

But the Warriors do have a move, one they can never seem to pull the trigger on. I call it “the Monta card.” Ellis is an unusual player in that a) He may not help GSW win, b) He may even make them worse, and c) Another GM may perceive his play as immensely valuable.

Though shocked I was to discover a newfound league interest in the understated, effective, Aaron Afflalo, make no mistake: This league is scoring seduced. The ethos of “hooray points!” has determined player salary, and will for so long as ex-jocks and glad-handers populate  executive ranks. While geeks made inroads with such concepts as “efficiency” and “defense,” analytical minds can never quite crowd out “killer instinct,” “clutch,” and “throat-ripping assassin swagger tooth tiger.” In the end, Joe Johnson gets max, Carmelo acts as self GM, and Harrison Barnes chucks towards a top-three draft slot. Scoring has an resilient emotional resonance, possibly because it’s so clutch in the fourth quarter with the game on the line ya know?

So while certain analytically-minded league executives may shun Monta, there must be a market for him. Or rather, I hope that there is.

To be clear, again: When I write that Ellis “doesn’t help the Warriors,” this often gets interpreted as “he stinks.” That is not the pose, though I can understand the confusion. Monta is an extremely talented player, and he certainly possesses skills that could help a team. A distant dream ago, he proffered efficient play alongside Baron.

But if the Warriors refuse to part with Stephen Curry when Chris Paul is on the table, Monta must go. GSW admitted as much when they attempted to swap Ellis for CP3, when only Curry would do. The backcourt is defensively dysfunctional, and it has much to do with how Ellis plays the two. Mark Jackson is a motivator, but I doubt he can motivate growth plates into Monta’s (relatively) stubby wingspan. Defense alone is enough reason to break up the pairing, but their clashing offensive styles evoke visions of an action movie where the characters fist fight near the pilot seat of a nose-diving aircraft.

The decision is a forgone conclusion and it’s now a matter of how the Warriors benefit from it. Can they sell high on Ellis for a shot at being say, the Grizzlies? Or will they continue down this road to low lottery nowhere, mismatched grinding gears, shrieking along the way…

10 Responses

  1. Bayesian Deathroll

    A few takeaways from this post:

    As someone who utilizes advanced stats/analytics for a living, I am confounded by the stat nerd movement in the NBA. You (meaning the blogger) might get upset when you hear specious appeals to a player’s “clutch” abilities, but equally infuriating is somebody who uses absolutely worthless advanced stats to measure a player’s ability. Look at PER, for example. Could you explain to me why every variable is used in that long-ass linear regression, why some are logged, and how they relate to efficiency? Or why do assists and turnovers have equal coefficients? I suspect you couldn’t answer those questions. Hell, I bet Hollinger himself couldn’t even answer those questions. For most, metrics like PER either tell them something they already know or they’re misleading, or would you honestly argue that Kobe was more efficient than Chris Paul last season, or that Kevin Martin more so than Deron freakin’ Williams? In short, PER, Win Shares, +/-, etc. are valueless values, and notions of efficiency derived from stats in basketball aren’t going anywhere until there’s more relevant primary data available.

    And we all know Monta Ellis can’t play defense, much like almost everybody else who has put on a Warriors uniform in the Nelson-Smart era. Curry was also skewered by lesser players since Monta was left guarding the better perimeter player, so don’t act as if Monta is the only defensive liability. Both are severely inadequate on that end of the floor and that’s why Mark Jackson is now coach.

    If the Curry and Ellis backcourt isn’t going to work, I really don’t get siding with Curry over Ellis. Ellis is a proven top ten scorer, much more athletic than Curry, and, perhaps most importantly, much more durable. Curry is the better shooter and maybe a marginally better passer, though both are turnover machines. I would feel much more comfortable in relying on Monta to become a better defender while Mark Jackson brings in somebody that can defend at the 2 and play the 1 on offense, than Curry magically becoming Steve Nash.

  2. Ryan R

    I agree with you guys that monta is an amazing player but didn’t we still have a losing record last year? Something has to change whether it’s monta or curry eventually. They can put up scary numbers together yes but they don’t win games together.

  3. alex

    How many years in a row is this same article going to get published? Every season it’s trade Monta, he hurts the team. It’s only preseason, but Monta was 8-11, pretty efficient. Meanwhile Curry had over 20 shots on 22 points. Your refusal to get over your own bias of Curry and dislike for Ellis’ talent amazes me. Good thing you aren’t the GM of the Warriors and only write the same boring articles to stir up drama. You remind me of ESPN, every game last year bringing up the supposed rift between Steph and Monta. Get over it already, Monta is here to stay, as well as Steph. Cya in the playoffs

  4. Sura.Thing

    Name one close game last season that stephen curry himself closed without monta’s help. you can’t. Monta’s is without a doubt the team’s best player (especially against good teams and on the road)and without him this team would be a lottery team. 40 against boston in boston, last minute plays in philly and okc to get the team into overtime, how can you overlook those performances?Clearly you and Lacob are miles apart on Monta, which is why I’m glad he’s in ownership and your just a blogger. Monta played in 80 out 82 games leading the team in minutes played, points scored and even though some suggest wacky andre-for monta trades(won’t happen) he has come back willing to grow,change his ways,commit to defense, and help his teammates get involved. I guarantee if the day ever came he left the team he would go to would be waay better off than the warriors.Steph Curry as i recall wasn’t any better on defense something you continue to omit, he let Jimmer get 21 off on him, Curry got pulled often last season b/c he was just as bad on d and guilty of committing touch fouls that in a game against Charlotte at home, cost us the game. With bloggers like you I’d go to Charlotte.

  5. World B. Free

    If anybody has seen any of my posts, they know I’m an unashamed Monta supporter. I acknowledge his deficiencies, though I think the scale at which they are attributed to him is somewhat undeserved.

    Monta is not Gary Payton. What Monta does, he does very well. At the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water, you have to keep Monta and coach around his deficiencies. There is no perfect player in the league – even LeBron has some deficiency. Would you get rid of D. Wade if his 10-15 foot jumper wasn’t falling at 50%? No, you wouldn’t. Because he has plenty of other things that make him extremely valuable. You would probably bring in a player that compliments the special things that D. Wade and only players on that level can bring.

    Same with Monta. Defense is not what he’s known for. But I will invite you to go back and audit all of the calls against him over the last couple of years and see how many of those were actually fair calls. Monta got plenty calls simply for being a small guy on a team not known for defense. Granted, he has a problem with reaching, but when the refs are sitting back waiting for him to reach, they sometimes called fouls that weren’t actually there. Besides, he should have had a lot more help down low once his man got past him.

    His efficiency took a dive because of that, too. No big man on the Warriors? Well, suddenly Monta is the best option going to the rim. So naturally, he had to shoot a lot. No, not all of his shot selections were ideal but I’m just saying the entire offense was less than ideal.

    Monta is worth a second look, tf only to keep other teams from taking him and using him against us.

  6. Matt

    As much as I think you’re blaming Monta’s play on the court for our lack of success, I think having the amount change in our front office has shifted our needs on the court almost every year. While Monta is just a straight up ball player, he doesn’t have the cast around him to succeed.

    Once we actually build depth on our bench, and I think we have been doing so, we can actually have player be worth some minutes in the long stretches of games. Monta averaged one of the leagues highest minutes last year. He just needs some help on our end.