When Wayne Ellington signed a free-agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks last summer, he knew what he was getting into.
Less than a month earlier the Mavs selected two guards — Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo — in the 2013 NBA draft. In the 15 days prior to Ellington inking his deal, Dallas added additional backcourt help in free agents Jose Calderon, Gal Mekel and Monta Ellis. As a final exclamation point, just five days after Ellington’s deal, the Mavs brought back an old friend in former draft choice Devin Harris.
The guard position was going to be well-stocked and a real strength for the 2013-14 edition of the Mavericks. Nevertheless, Ellington felt the fit was right and is now providing veteran depth on the Dallas bench.
That’s been his earmark throughout his four-year pro career. Drafted in the first round of the 2009 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ellington saw action in 76 games his rookie year. He tallied 6.6 points while averaging just over 18 minutes per game. In only starting one game that season, he was asked to provide a spark off the bench and found his niche in doing so.
The next two seasons were much the same for Ellington in Minnesota as he appeared in 189 games over a three-year period, yet started only 13 of those. His numbers held and the 6-foot-4 guard was counted upon for solid play and timely shooting.
Last season, Ellington began the year with the Memphis Grizzlies after an offseason trade. There, in 40 games, he averaged 5.5 points off the pine. He was traded mid-season to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he posted career numbers in many areas.
In 38 games with the Cavs, he averaged 10.4 points in 38 games while starting 17 of those. Despite those numbers and his threat as a catch-and-shoot guard, Ellington opted for free agency and landed with the Mavs.
On July 26, he signed a two-year deal with Dallas coming in with a reputation for long-range shooting and defensive work ethic.
With both Larkin and Harris on the injured list to begin the year, Ellington saw double-digit minutes in three of his first six games with the Mavericks logging a season-high tying six points in two of those games. As he was finding his role with the team, a right thigh contusion cost him multiple games during which time, Shane Larkin was able to return to the lineup.
Larkin’s return put in a dent in Ellington’s minutes as he’s had double-digit playing time only once and has been shut out on the scoring ledger three times in that period. Still, he’s working as hard as ever to be ready when the call from coach Carlisle comes.
Wayne Ellington may be a valuable insurance policy for the Mavs’ backcourt but it’s that veteran leadership on the bench that makes Dallas’ overall backcourt package one of the best in the league.