By: Abe Chong

ESPN The Mag writer Chris Palmer posted “Who’s better: Ellis or Westbrook” today for ESPN Insiders. Here’s some of the other “Who’s Better” articles that have been posted recently: Pau Gasol vs. Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant vs. Lebron James, Derrick Rose vs. Dwyane Wade, Rondo vs. D-Will, etc. So yeah, I was pretty excited(surprised) to see Monta put up there with some of the greats. Suck it, Hollinger.

No, I’m not going to be a total homer and say that Monta is miles better than Westbrook. I know what time it is — and it ain’t nut-hugging time. Chris Palmer surmises in the article that Westbrook is better anyway, and I agree. Westy is an uber-athletic point guard that’s averaging 22 points and 8.4 dimes a game. He’s much more built than Ellis is. If arms are the equivalent of male cleavage like my female friends keep insisting, Monta probably has double-A cups, and Westbrook is probably more like big B’s. Lastly, he’s just as fast and he’s a good size for the point guard position. Monta is small for the 2.

Under the ‘Intangibles’ section in the article, his listed innate ability is leadership. Russell is “…popular, well-liked…careful not to offend…the heart of their great chemistry…” Just like Captain America! He makes a very conscious effort to feed others and it shows. Just like Jesus!

Ellis’ listed intangible is “scoring tricks.” And Warriors fans know exactly what that means. Ellis scores in more ways than I can count. He contorts his body in mid-air to make crazy layups. He stops on a dime and swishes sweet midrange jumpers. He can take off and throw it down. All that jazz and more. But sorry, I’ll take leadership over scoring tricks any time.

It is, however, a moral victory that this was even debated in the first place. And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. There just aren’t that many players in the league that can dominate offensively like Ellis can. Hollinger can have his PER, I’ll take what I witness. I’ve seen Monta take over plenty of games in the blink of an eye. I watched Monta go shot-for-shot against Kobe Bryant and other superstars with the game on the line and hold his own.

So what if Monta wasn’t an All-Star this season and Westbrook was? For first year All-Stars, it’s more recognition than anything. Check out this excerpt from an interview with first-year All-Star Kevin Love, courtesy of The Post Game:

Love: The funniest thing to me was (West coach Gregg) Popovich was like (at practice), “All right, everyone, bring it in.” He said, “Everyone is going to get a lot of playing time. Everyone is going to have a great time out there. But Blake (Griffin), Russell (Westbrook) and Kevin, you guys are all (expletive). You guys are first timers. You guys are screwed. You got one star on the back of your jersey. You’ll be lucky to get a couple minutes.” He was funny. Everyone was asking about that. He said, “I’m just (expletive) with you guys.” But he was serious.

If anything, Ellis just missed the opportunity to play about four minutes in a pretend game. All good, there’s always next year.

So yeah, even though I was surprised to see Ellis included in these debates, I’m totally convinced now that he belongs. Maybe the question that we as Warriors fans should be asking ourselves is: Who’s better: Ellis or Curry?

That’s a whole other debate right there.

One Response

  1. Steven R

    This is more difficult than it seems because Westbrook has the distinct edge of playing alongside a top scorer in Kevin Durant, which allows him to attack the rim or be able to find an open Durant. Which makes Westbrook and Durant one of the best combinations in the NBA.

    Now if you put Westbrook on the Warriors and Ellis in the lineup with Durant who would you say was better then? That becomes a easier question to answer and it would be Ellis. Ellis can gamble defensively, but he would also be getting more respect from the refs.

    It’s amazing watching some of the foul calls against the Warriors, Curry got called for a foul on Westbrook that gave him the game winning free throw as Westbrook’s shot was also blocked. Westbrook missed the first and hit the second.

    Unfortunately, Ellis who struggled shooting the basketball was not able to pull out another dagger to defeat a team at the buzzer. Also, Westbrook was not defending Ellis, he was defending Curry as Thabo Sefalosha was on Ellis and because of his size and length bothered him throughout the night.

    Westbrook on the other hand was routinely beat by Curry again and again as he went for 35 points and that’s not the first time Curry has had big games scoring against Westbrook another game he went for 39, and head to head Curry averages more points, less turnovers, shoots 59.1 percent from the field compared to Westbrook’s 36.8 percent.

    I think that it’s much closer than you realize as Ellis is the third best shooting guard in the NBA, while Westbrook is behind Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams.

    Here’s the difference though Ellis can make jumpers, Westbrook for all his strength at getting to the rim isn’t that consistent with his jumper for his career he shoots 42.1 percent from the floor, Ellis on the other hand shoots 47 percent from the floor.

    Ellis like Westbrook in his third year had a very talented team. If the averages stay true then Westbrook would end up averaging more points, assists, more steals, and a better free throw percentage. His numbers are 22.2 points, 8.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals, on 44.5 percent shooting, 35.2 percent from three, and 84.1 percent from the free throw line.

    Ellis in his third season when the Warriors won 48 games, he averaged 20.2 points, 5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals, on 53.1 percent from the field, 23.1 percent from three, and 76.7 percent from the field.

    Westbrook’s career high in field goal percentage would be this year at 44.5 percent, his second year he shot 41.8, and his rookie season 39.8 percent from the field. Until he gets a jumper that is consistent and he shoots over 45 percent, he is not better than Ellis even if he has the edge defensively.

    The other statistic that I did not mention are the turnovers. Last season Monta learned how to play point guard and averaged 3.8 turnovers per game, this year he has also handled the ball as much as last year and plays a ton of minutes. This season he averages 3.2 turnovers. Westbrook is at 3.9 per game, career wise Monta averages 2.7 turnovers per game compared to 3.5 by Westbrook.

    Like I said it’s hard to compare the two, but if Ellis and Westbrook were to switch places, the Warriors would be worse off. Not because of a lineup of Curry and Westbrook, but because Westbrook does not have the mid range game that Ellis possesses.

    Also, more times than not when Westbrook is forced to become the scorer he struggles from the field. His best shooting night this season 10-15 and 11-17. Ellis’ best shooting night 18-24, 15-20, and 16-25.

    Just imagining Ellis and Durant in the same lineup that would be a scary tandem especially with Ellis’ maturity and his new sense of leadership. Even if he struggles from the field he has done a better job at finding his teammates, for instance tonight against the Thunder he didn’t get forced into turnovers as he only had one and he dished out 11 assists. Ellis went 9-30 from the field while Westbrook went 4-15. Westbrook on the other hand dished out 9 but also had six turnovers.

    Like I mentioned before Curry had 35 points and with Curry defending him Westbrook mustered 15 points, while Ellis held Sefalosha to seven points.