2015 Year in Review: Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis goes freeD

Check out some of Monta Ellis' handywork from Friday night's game in glorious 360-degrees!

Monta Ellis became the first Maverick not named Dirk Nowitzki to lead the team in per-game scoring since the 1999-00 season. That lets you know not only that Dirk has been a staple in Dallas for nearly 20 years now, but also that Ellis was the first Maverick we’ve seen in almost as long who wasn’t a complement to Nowitzki. Ellis was the kick-starter in the first quarter and the go-to guy in the fourth, finishing fifth in the NBA in fourth-quarter field goal attempts and 13th in points. It’s clear that Ellis was the focal point of the Mavs offense this season, and that’s something we haven’t been able to say about anyone other than No. 41 since most high school graduates were learning to walk.

But he wasn’t just a scorer. He led the Mavericks in minutes played and field goal attempts, but also assists and steals. His role on this team was an important one, and what happens with his contract situation this summer will have a large impact on the club’s plans moving forward.

SEASON STATS

PTS AST FG% STL
18.9 4.1 44.5 1.9

PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

Ellis

Ellis enjoyed a particularly hot start to the season, especially in the mid-range, as he shot 45.7 percent or better from the field for the first four months of the 2014-15 campaign. This included one terrific stretch in December in which he became King Midas of basketball, turning everything he touched into gold. He hit game-tyers, game-winners, and buzzer-beaters of all kinds.

Ellis is generally at his best when he’s going downhill toward the rim coming off a ball-screen, ranking in the 73rd percentile in the NBA in points per possession as the pick-and-roll ball-handler. He also ranked in the 77th percentile in isolation scoring efficiency, a huge positive given the volume of late-game isolation attempts he received throughout the season. Ellis is the type of player who can always create a shot regardless of the situation simply because he’s so crafty with the ball and he’s got tremendous quickness and leaping ability. Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle both cited this as reasons multiple times during the season why Ellis was the primary fourth-quarter option. Sometimes, you need a guy who can create something out of nothing, especially when the defense ratchets up the pressure.

As the season wore on, however, and more offensive attention was shifted to Chandler Parsons and the newly acquired Rajon Rondo, Ellis’ workload wasn’t as heavy. This is both good and bad — good because the Mavericks didn’t demand as much from the 2-guard and instead looked to other players to share the burden, but unfortunate as Ellis is the type of player who thrives when the ball is in his hands. He’s a creator for both himself and others, and having to play off the ball as much as he did this season certainly impacted his production: He averaged just 14.8 points per game in February and 16.7 in April. However, he awakened in a big way toward the end of the Mavs/Rockets playoff series, ultimately averaging 26.0 points for the postseason and shooting 60 percent or better from the field in both Games 3 and 4.

STANDOUT SHOWING

Taco Bell Buzzer-Beater: Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis drills a deep 2-pointer as time expires in the fourth as the Mavericks take down the Bucks.

Ellis’ game-winner in Milwaukee was the third domino to fall in what was simply a stretch of dominance at the beginning of December. First, he scored 30 points in a rod win at Toronto on Nov. 28, then 38 four days later in Chicago, a game in which he hit big shot after big shot in a dramatic double-overtime game. The next night, he’d beat the buzzer against the Bucks before scoring 33 just two days later. Finally, just three days after that, he scored 26 points in a home win against New Orleans, including 13 of the Mavs’ final 15 points.

For that two-week period, Ellis was the most dangerous offensive player in basketball, especially in the fourth quarter. Yet somehow, he didn’t even win a Player of the Week award.

Not garnering recognition is probably fine with Ellis, however. He uses slights like that as motivation. Not Player of the Week? Fine, he’ll hit a buzzer-beater. Not an All-Star? Fine, he’ll continue to lead his team in scoring. He’s a man of few words but certainly lets his play reveal how he truly feels about things.

CONTRACT STATUS

Ellis has the ability to opt out of the final year of his contract, and must make his decision by June 24. Opting out of a contract in his type of situation is always a tough choice, as he’d ultimately prefer a long-term contract — but finding one with the right average annual value is always tricky. Free agency doesn’t begin until July 1, and the NBA Draft is the day after Ellis will make his decision, so the Mavs will have a fair amount of time after he makes his choice to plan accordingly in regards to selecting a prospect and pursuing other players on the open market.

FUTURE OUTLOOK

The shooting guard will be 30 and entering his 11th campaign on opening night this fall. That type of mileage on a 2-guard is typically a concern to most teams, but Ellis has demonstrated again and again that he has the durability of a 20-year-old. He missed just two games this season, previously playing all 82 in both ’12-’13 and ’13-’14. That’s a claim not many players at any age could make in this league, so you know when you sign Ellis that you’re getting him for basically the entire season. He also shot a career-best 43.9 percent on shots from 16 feet to the three-point line, per Basketball-Reference, which indicates that he could be able to improve from the mid-range as he ages, lessening the physical toll on his body of driving to the lane 10 or 12 times per game.

Monta and the Mavs too much for Houston in Game 4

Rockets vs. Mavericks: Game 4

Monta Ellis scored 31 points and grabbed six rebounds to help the Mavericks win Game 4, 121-109.

Down 3-0 and with their backs against the wall, it was going to take an energetic, complete performance for the Mavs to extend the series and push it back to Houston. That’s exactly the type of game Dallas played in Game 4, putting together one of their best games of the season, and just in time.

The Mavericks will now turn their attention to Game 5, as the club won’t have much time to think about how they extended their season. Game 5 is tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CT, less than 48 hours after Game 4 even tipped off. The best thing about not playing, though, is that we can revisit what happened in Game 4 without having to worry about defending James Harden and Dwight Howard. Let’s leave that to the pros and, while we’re at it, check out how they did it.

THE PERFECT AMOUNT OF MONTA

There’s been way too much Monta Ellis in Games 3 and 4 as far as Houston is concerned, but just enough for the Mavs’ taste. He scored a combined 65 points in the two contests on a very efficient 28-of-49 shooting, and his performance in Game 4 was one of his best of the season, as he attacked the rim all game long. His shot chart says it all: 6-of-6 at the basket is a pretty impressive feat, especially against a rim protector like Dwight Howard.

Shotchart_1430111388276

Ellis is at his best when he attacks the basket, especially early in the shot clock. We see this every now and then when an opponent makes a basket. If the defense doesn’t get in position quickly, specifically the center, Ellis is going to turn on the burners and attack the bucket. The Rockets went very small for much of Game 4, playing four guards next to Dwight Howard or Josh Smith for large stretches of the contest, which gave the Mavs’ 2-guard a much clearer path to the rim. Without bigs to protect the paint, Ellis ran wild.

For the series, Ellis is shooting 11-of-17 in transition, per Synergy Sports, good for 64.7 percent. Only Stephen Curry, Houston’s Corey Brewer, and Jimmy Butler have scored more points in transition than Ellis. If he can continue driving to the basket early in the shot clock, it will force the Houston defense to get set quicker, causing the Rockets to expend more energy. In addition, as has always been the case, if Monta gets going downhill, the defense naturally sucks in over the course of a game, leaving the perimeter open for players like Dirk Nowitzki to take advantage of the extra space. Ellis is the key to this offense, and he was in top form Sunday night.

STEPPING IN AND STEPPING UP

Rick Carlisle had searched and searched for the right formula after both Chandler Parsons and Rajon Rondo were sidelined for the rest of the season earlier in this series. In Game 3, he turned to Richard Jefferson and Raymond Felton in the starting lineup, but in that game it was the play of JJ Barea and Al-Farouq Aminu that stood out the most. So when it came time to declare starters for Game 4, it only made sense that those were the two to get the nod. They did, and they came up huge in the Mavs’ win.

One-on-one with JJ Barea

Lonnie Franklin III goes one-on-one with JJ Barea after Sunday's win over Houston.

Both players finished with double-doubles — Barea with 17 points and 13 assists, Aminu with 16 points and 12 rebounds, four of them offensive. Both played a season-high in minutes, too, but it looked the entire time like they belonged.

The offense has performed beautifully with Barea running the show in this series. Per NBA.com, the Mavericks have scored 121.4 points per 100 possessions with Barea on the floor against Houston, and the team has a 58.3 true shooting percentage during that time. (True shooting measures shooting performance on all shots, including free throws.)

The Mavs outscored Houston by 32.3 points per 100 possessions in Game 4 with Barea on the floor as the offense hummed to the tune of a 130.6 offensive rating. Barea’s command of the tempo had a lot to do with it.

“He’s always a guy that’s going to battle,” Carlisle said. “He’s relished playoff opportunities. That’s been the pattern of his career. He’s played big for us a lot while he’s been here. I just think that’s how he’s wired and how he approaches it.”

Aminu, too, made an impact on the offensive end, but it was his defense against James Harden which stood out the most. Aminu has the length and foot speed required to stay in front of the shifty Harden, who has good size (6′ 5″ with a 6′ 11″ wingspan) for a shooting guard. His Game 4 opponent, Aminu, though, boasts a wingspan longer than 7′ 3″, which gives him the advantage when it comes to defending Harden’s patented Euro step drives.

There aren’t many people on the planet who can both stay in front of Harden for 30 feet and also block his floater. What an incredible play by Aminu.

“He’s one of our most relentless workers,” Carlisle said. “He’s earned this opportunity. He impacted the game in a lot of ways tonight.”

As for Aminu’s thoughts? “I always try to provide energy and defense. I’m just trying to keep on doing my job,” he said. Ho-hum. Gotta love it.

The Mavs simply don’t win this game without his defense and Barea’s command of the offense, and Dallas will need those two to contribute at a similar level for the remainder of the series.

DIRK’S CLOSING TOUCH

The “great Nowitzki,” as Carlisle called him after Game 3, was stupendous down the stretch yet again. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter on 4-of-6 shooting, mixing in all sorts of moves to give Dallas the closing boost it needed as Houston attempted a comeback.

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Dirk has averaged 8.0 points on 47.4 percent shooting per fourth quarter in the playoffs, which is in line with what he’s done for the whole of his career. Nowitzki is so good that, when he has the ball when the game matters, you never think that he’s going to miss. He’s a really special player, but you already knew that. What you might not have known, however, is that Nowitzki’s career average of 25.5 points per game in the playoffs ranks tied for 11th all-time among players with double-digit postseason appearances, and only five players ahead of him on the list have a higher field goal percentage. Pretty impressive stuff.

Everything clicked for the Mavericks in Game 4. The team played with pride, energy, and willpower, but also mixed in excellent shotmaking, tenacious defense, and strong rebounding. Dallas was the better team in all phases, and that’s what you have to do to win in the playoffs. We won’t have to wait long to see whether the team can repeat its performance in Game 5.

Chandler Parsons’ return keys blueprint win for Mavs

It didn’t take long for Chandler Parsons to make an impact in his return after a seven-game absence.

The small forward finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and two assists against the Lakers in his first action since a Feb. 20 win against the Houston Rockets. He provided two pretty good examples of what the Mavs missed while he was out. In his first offensive possession of the game, Parsons drove through the Lakers defense and finished at the rim. Then, he connected with Tyson Chandler for a sweet alley-oop.

Parsons to Chandler

Tyson Chandler throws down the alley-oop lob from Chandler Parsons.

As the third playmaker in the Mavs starting five, Parsons has the ability to work on the weakside of the floor, either one-on-one with his defender or in a pick-and-roll with a big, usually Chandler. There aren’t many forwards in the NBA capable of driving and finishing like Parsons can, and there certainly aren’t more than a handful who can run the pick-and-roll with the type of proficiency he does.

He also did this, which was pretty cool.

Parsons’ Puts Kelly on Skates

Chandler Parsons gets Ryan Kelly with a nice cross-over then finishes in the lane scooping hook shot.

Parsons was a sight for sore eyes for Mavs fans, but not because Richard Jefferson didn’t perform well as his replacement in the starting lineup. Jefferson shot the ball extremely well and provided some spacing relief for the club while Parsons was out. However, Parsons adds a dynamic to this team which cannot be duplicated by anyone else. He can break down a defense and take big guys off the dribble, even in tight spaces, and he runs the floor well in transition. Both of those things matter to this Mavs team, as it’s best when moving quickly from defense to offense and fighting against defenses that hope to pack the paint.

More importantly, Parsons is a solid defender and good rebounder for his position, which is especially important as the team looks to close out games. Parsons’ on-floor net rating of 17.8 was second-best on the team (behind only Jefferson’s 23.4), and Dallas allowed just 88.0 points per 100 possessions with Parsons on the floor, which was the best mark of any player on the team.

THE FOURTH QUARTER RUN

Much of Parsons’ defensive rating had to do with the fact that Parsons was on the floor for the game-defining run which turned a difficult situation into a strong win.

Trailing 90-84 with 6:35 left in the game, the unit consisting of Rajon Rondo/Monta Ellis/Parsons/Al-Farouq Aminu/Chandler launched 16-1 run over the next 5:27. Disregarding a meaningless layup the Lakers scored at the buzzer, that unit limited LA’s offense to 0-of-6 shooting and six turnovers for the rest of the game once the Lakers went up 90-84. Most importantly, the Lakers didn’t grab an offensive rebound during that stretch after securing 15 throughout the game. That’s just a remarkable stretch of defensive execution, and it’s one that turned an iffy situation into a victory.

Taking the lead on the Mavs’ defensive effort was Aminu, who recorded six steals and three blocks against the Lakers. He’s the first Maverick to put up those numbers in one game since Derek Harper did the same in 1990 — 25 years ago. All told, seven of the 10 Mavs who played recorded at least one block or steal. Aminu has been terrific as of late and he continued that trend against LA, scoring 13 points (second on the team) and adding five boards in just 20 minutes.

TOO MUCH MONTA

Ellis’ 31 Points

Monta Ellis records 31 points to lead the Mavericks over the Lakers.

Ellis was simply spectacular against the Lakers, particularly in the second half. At one point in the third quarter, he drained three consecutive three-pointers to shave a seven-point deficit to just two heading into the fourth quarter. Ellis scored 26 points in the second half alone, including 18 of the Mavs’ 31 in the third quarter. He was outstanding. This performance was reminiscent of some of the masterpieces he put together earlier in the season, particularly one stretch in which he hit two straight game-winners against the Bulls and Bucks and led a comeback against the Pelicans. After shooting below 50 percent in 10 of his last 12 appearances, the obvious hope is that Ellis busted out of his mini-slump.

THE BLUEPRINT

Dallas was without backup guard Devin Harris against the Lakers, but this was the first time all season that the starting five and Amar’e Stoudemire all played in the same game. It’s important to keep in mind that most of these guys are still new to the team (Stoudemire and Rondo especially) so the only way for them to get comfortable with one another is to actually play together.

Familiarity, reliability, and confidence can only be built through spending time together in actual games, so hopefully Harris can return to action by Tuesday against Cleveland. It’s very challenging to win in the playoffs no matter how long you’ve played together, but the best teams have formulas in place to win meaningful games. In many ways, this game could very well serve as a sort of blueprint for the club moving forward.

The Mavs made their big fourth-quarter push with a combination of defense and rebounding, plus drawing charges and forcing turnovers. Then, they turned those opportunities into points the other way. Dallas is most dangerous when the opposing defense isn’t set, as that opens up all sorts of driving lanes for Parsons, Ellis, Rajon Rondo, and so on. Plus, it allows Dirk to get his trailing three looks, and we know how good he is on those shots.

In the first half, Dallas played through Parsons and Nowitzki more than anyone else. Both players took eight shots. But in the second half, Ellis took over the offense, facilitating the team for the bulk of the third quarter, which is how he scored all of those points. On nights when Parsons or Dirk have it going, they might be the ones to get all of those looks. The good thing about having so many different players who can control a game like that is you can just play through whichever one is the hottest at that moment. Some nights it will be Dirk, others Ellis, others Parsons, and it could even be Rondo, as was the case when he scored 19 points in a win last week against the Pelicans.

Most importantly, the Mavs found a defensive unit that really clicked. That Rondo/Ellis/Parsons/Aminu/Chandler five-man group is versatile, quick, and athletic on the defensive end, all while remaining dangerous offensively, especially in the open floor. That’s a unit we might see more of if Dallas plays against teams which like to go small, although Nowitzki is obviously going to continue getting his minutes. Dallas has been one of the best defensive teams in the league since the beginning of February, but this group took it to another level on Sunday night.

The win might have been a bit ugly, but several things came out of it that we might see over and over again moving forward from here on out. This is the healthiest the team has been all season (Harris’ injury notwithstanding) and hopefully the club can remain healthy the rest of the way so we can really see what this team is capable of.

Why Monta Ellis is on Charlie Villanueva’s all-star ballot

Que pasa mi gente!

Getting back into the groove of writing and since last week they announced the All-Star starters and we are less than a week away from hearing who the reserves will be. I want to throw something out there: Monta Ellis deserves to be in New York City!

It is an honor to be in the All-Star game and although I have never played in the actual NBA All-Star game, in the past, I have participated in the Rookie/Sophmore game. To be recognized for your craft, for your passion, and in this case your job is a tremendous honor. And honestly every year I feel like a few guys get “snubbed”. And I didn’t even realize until I started thinking about this post, about how Monta has never been elected to the All-Star game…SMH.

The beauty of our team is that it isn’t one guy, it is truly a team effort, a fine balance. Our team, from management to the coaching staff to the players, are crazy hype about how good we are, how much we can improve, and what that means come April, May and June.

This isn’t about me (I still have a long way to go) but this is my first real chance in my entire pro career to:

Read the full post on Charlie’s blog »

VU from the top

Editor’s note: Stats reflect games played through Jan. 18.

The Mavs are already halfway through the season. Crazy how time flies, right?

As we rapidly approach the All-Star break, exactly who teams are is becoming a bit more clear. Generally, it’s very difficult to draw conclusions about what a team does and doesn’t do through the first 20-30 games in a season because, as we learned in December, midseason trades can completely shift the foundation of a team. Players come and go, injuries occur, and so on. But Dallas has already played 41 games this season and more than a dozen with Rajon Rondo, so we know enough about this team to consider how it stacks up against the rest of the league.

One thing that’s made that even easier is SportVU, NBA tracking technology that takes into account literally every aspect of a game you can think of. How quickly are players moving? Where do they like to shoot? How effective are they at sharing the ball? All those answers and more are readily available to coaching staffs around the league, and a small (albeit extremely useful) portion of that data is made publicly available by the NBA, giving stat heads a chance to really dig deep to analyze the game.

The Mavericks stacked up well in many SportVU areas last season. For example, Dirk Nowitzki was near the top in catch-and-shoot points per game (and is again this season). Monta Ellis was prolific at driving the ball (as he is this year) and he also generated plenty of points per game off of assists. But with a new team and a slightly different system, where do the new Mavs rank this season in key categories?

DRIVING

First, let’s start off with how the Mavs as a team stack up when it comes to driving the lane. We know that was a huge point of emphasis for the club heading into the season, as the additions of Chandler Parsons, JJ Barea, Raymond Felton, and Jameer Nelson signaled that Dallas would look to get downhill from all angles. Even after Nelson was traded for Rondo, Dallas has still been a superior team in terms of capitalizing off of drives to the rim.

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Dallas scores more than three points per game more on drives per game than second-place New Orleans, and that’s the only club that even comes close. You simply do not see massive gaps like this in most statistical categories in any pro sport, but the Mavs are head and shoulders above every other club when it comes to scoring points on drives to the basket, a combination of elite finishing skills and excellent passing ability.

The only club in the top-10 in team points per game on drives which scores more points per drive than Dallas is the Toronto Raptors, who do on a much more limited basis. The Raps drive to the basket 1.5 times fewer per quarter than the Mavericks, a significant difference. Dallas not only attacks the basket at a massive volume, but also does so super-efficiently, which makes this offense one of the most difficult to stop in the NBA.

On an individual basis, Monta Ellis grades out well yet again this season. He’s one of just six qualified players in the league in the top-12 in both team points per drive and individual points per drive this season. That’s a pretty impressive stat, especially considering who else is in that company.

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Ellis is 10th in the league in team points per drive, meaning the Mavericks score 1.2 points every time he gets into the lane moving toward the rim. The biggest beneficiaries of his penetration are Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki, of course, but as you see below, Ellis also scores plenty of points himself, and rather effectively, too.

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Only eight players in the league score more points themselves per drive than Ellis, but only four of them drive the ball at a similar rate. For example, Gordon Hayward leads the league in points per drive, but he gets to the rim three times fewer per game than Monta. In addition, three players ahead of him on the list shoot a lower percentage on rim drives. His efficiency is even more impressive given how defenses have approached this offense since the Rondo deal, virtually packing the paint with at least three defenders on almost every possession. Defenses know what’s coming and Ellis and the Mavs still generate points at a league-leading rate.

PASSING

We knew Rondo was a court maestro when the Mavs acquired him in December, but he’s been able to create more from less than just about anyone else in basketball.

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The Mavericks score 19.5 points per game off of Rondo’s 8.1 assists. That’s 2.41 points per dime, better than both Chris Paul (above him) and Stephen Curry (beneath him). It means he’s been able to find shooters behind the three-point line and that those guys have been able to convert those looks. Dallas players have generally done a good job scoring off of Rondo passes, scoring field goals on 57.4 percent of Rondo’s assist opportunities. That’s a two-pronged stat: 1. It means the players are shooting well when catching a Rondo pass, and 2. It means Rondo demonstrates good judgment, delivering the ball to the right players at the right time in the right spots. He’s already shown that he understands where certain players want the ball, which is especially impressive considering he’s been here less than a month.

There are plenty other SportVU stats available. It’s fun to check them out. For example, how well does Tyson Chandler protect the rim? How good is Dirk at shooting off the catch? Which Mavs have traveled the farthest distance this season, and who moves the fastest? These and the ones above are stats worth keeping an eye on throughout the rest of the season.

Player of the Week: Monta Ellis

Play of the Day: Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis drills a deep 2-pointer as time expires in the fourth as the Mavericks take down the Bucks.

There’s no way Monta Ellis couldn’t be this week’s Player of the Week.

He was just unbelievable in the last four games, at times carrying the team and at times just playing his normal All-Star brand of basketball. Ellis technically hit two game-winners in two nights (the Milwaukee buzzer-beater and the three-pointer to take a 130-129 lead in Chicago), and while it’s impossible to credit just one player for any NBA win, without Ellis’s late-game heroics in both contests, there’s no telling if Dallas would have won either game.

For example, Ellis scored eight of the Mavs’ final nine points in the come-from-behind road win against the Bucks Wednesday night, and all of them came in the final 1:34 of the game. He took his game up another level in Chicago, and he’s sustained that rare combination of efficiency and volume throughout the entire week — his 32.4 usage rate in the last four games leads the team by a mile, and that number climbed to an even higher 36.8 percent in the fourth quarter, meaning more than one-third of Mavs possessions in the final frame ended either in an Ellis shot or turnover. And considering he turned it over less than two times per game during the last four, more often than not it was a shot and two points.

Monta’s Week in Numbers
28.3 PPG (led team) 50.0 FG% 1.8 SPG (led team) 32.4 usage rate (led team) One buzzer-beater and one game-winner (led the team!) 8.3 PPG in 4th Quarters (led team) 57.9 FG% in 4th Quarters

As Rick Carlisle and other Mavericks have said, the team can’t continue to rely so heavily on Ellis for the rest of the season. However, on a team with as many scoring threats as this one, it does make sense to ride the hot hand. That’s what Dallas did when Dirk had it cooking a few weeks ago, and that’s what’s happening now with Ellis. Once he cools off a bit, the Mavericks can look in a different direction for points. Last night, Chandler Parsons led the way in the scoring department, although he was also the only Maverick who played more than 30 minutes in what turned out to be a blowout win in a rematch with the Bucks. Ellis and Nowitzki were also red-hot — in other words, everything was back to normal.

But we might as well enjoy the most recent Ellis tear while it lasts. He’s simply been phenomenal at a time when Dallas has needed him most, and his conquests are a huge reason why the Mavs rank second in the league in “clutch” net rating (difference in points per 100 possessions in the final five minutes of a game with the lead at five points either way) at +33.1. The Mavs have played more clutch minutes this season than all but three teams, per NBA.com, which makes their absurd efficiency in the closing moments of close contests even more impressive. Monta Ellis has a lot to do with it.

STAT OF THE WEEK69.8

Dallas shot 69.8 percent (37-of-53) on two-pointers Sunday against the Bucks. According to Basketball-Reference, it’s just the third time in franchise history that the team has converted on 2s at that clip. The other two games, strangely enough, have both come in the year 2014. Dallas hit 70.2 percent against the Lakers on Nov. 21 and 72.2 percent on Feb. 21 against Philadelphia. The performance against Philadelphia ties for the 14th-best in as far back as the B-R database goes (the 1963-64 season). Last night’s blitzkrieg against Milwaukee ties for 41st all-time.

Consider that another coincidental stat, as the Mavs’ No. 41 hit 7-of-8 himself on 2s yesterday. Per B-R, it’s just the 14th time in his career that Dirk has hit at least 87.5 percent on 2s on at least eight attempts. (The Mavs have only lost one of those games.)

Highlights: Mavs vs. Bulls – 12/2/14

Monta Ellis scored 38 points and sank three free throws to send the game into overtime. His 3-pointer from downtown Peoria put the Mavs up for good as they outlast the Bulls in double OT.

We saw all sorts of bonkers efficiency last night. Chandler Parsons went 7-of-8 on 2s. Monta Ellis was 6-of-8. Brandan Wright and Tyson Chandler combined to shoot 66.7 percent, which actually lowered the team’s field goal percentage. You don’t see that very often. (Based on how well those guys have played this season, I don’t think they’re going to hear about it in the locker room.) For the season, Dallas leads the league in two-point percentage at 54.5. Only seven other teams hit at least half their 2s.

Last night’s offensive outburst propelled the team’s offensive rating back up to 114.0, 2.3 points per 100 possessions better than any other team. The Mavericks haven’t scored fewer than 106 points in a game in exactly two weeks; Dallas scored 100 points in a loss to Indiana on Nov. 24 and the Mavs have won six of seven since.

Player of the Week: Monta Ellis

Highlights: Mavs vs. Timberwolves – 11/15/14

Monta Ellis led the way with 30 points and seven others scored in double digits as the Mavs chopped down the Timberwolves 131-117.

Monta Ellis isn’t the player of the week just because of his own numbers. We’re beginning to see significant evidence through 10 games that his fingerprints are really all over this team.

Ellis went ballistic on the court this week, scoring 21.5 points in just 32 minutes per game and hitting well over half his shots. Dallas was 24 points per 100 possessions overall when Ellis played. Those are impressive numbers, and they’re a huge reason by Dallas went 3-1, including one dramatic comeback win against Sacramento and two fairly convincing wins over Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Much was made last season of Monta’s development as a player and how effective he became alongside Dirk Nowitzki. A lot of very smart people pointed to Nowitzki’s impact on floor spacing making things easier for Ellis, and therefore Dirk deserved a lot of the credit. That isn’t necessarily incorrect, though one could argue that the German benefited just as much from Ellis. Their symbiotic relationship in the halfcourt propelled Dallas to a league-best offense after the All-Star break last season and the Mavs are off to another crazy-good start this season.

Monta’s Week in Numbers
21.5 PPG (led team) 4.0 APG 1.5 SPG (T-team lead) 52.4% FG 40.0% 3PT 120.2 Offensive Rating 23.9 Net Rating

That said, Ellis has connected with several other Mavericks this season en route to maybe the most efficient start to a year in his career. For example, per NBA.com, Brandan Wright has attempted 10 shots this season off of Ellis passes, and he’s made all of them. Tyson Chandler is shooting 85.7 percent on field goal attempts following a dish from his pick-and-roll partner. Parsons connects on 55 percent of his attempts. Devin Harris is shooting 50 percent on three-pointers following an Ellis pass.

Notice the pattern? Ellis is generating offense for everyone, including himself. And they’re easy points, too. A huge chunk of those points are a result of Ellis penetrating the defense. Dallas scores nearly 1.4 points every time the 2-guard drives to the rim, per SportVU. Ellis is scoring just 6.7 points on drives, but he’s creating 7.0 points for others as well. But even as his individual per-game scoring average off drives has dropped from last season to this season, he’s still 4th in points in the paint per game among guards. The Mavs are 2nd in the NBA behind only the New Orleans Pelicans.

But maybe the biggest impact Ellis has made is felt in another part of the game: transition. Monta and Chandler Parsons are two of the most dangerous transition players in the league, and that’s transformed this Dallas team for the better. The Mavericks now look to push the ball every chance they get, whether it’s off a turnover or a long miss. Ellis is 14th in the league in fast break points per game and the Mavs are 4th as a team. Parsons and Ellis combine to score 6.6 points on the break every game. Those are six very easy points, and as close as the West is going to be this season, every last point matters and could very well decide a game.

After Dallas signed Ellis last summer, he said he wanted to become a one-man fast break. This season, he doesn’t need to be. He’s got company.

STAT OF THE WEEK2

The Mavericks have recorded 30+ assists in two consecutive games for just the second time since the end of the 2009-10 season, per Basketball-Reference. Dallas dropped 33 dimes against Philadelphia on Thursday and 31 last night against Minnesota. The site’s game database only goes back to the 1985-86 season, and it’s just the 13th time since that season that the Mavs have followed one 30-assist game with another. The Mavericks only reached three straight games once — during a stretch in March of 2008.

That run has increased the team’s assists per game average from 21.6 to 23.7, a remarkable leap in such a short time span. Obviously, small sample size is still a factor, as Dallas has just played 10 games this season. However, the Mavs only recorded 30+ assists in 10 games last season, according to Basketball-Reference. That the team has already done it twice this season — never mind that it was in two straight contests — speaks volumes about the club’s willingness to share the ball. That starts with this week’s player of the week, Monta Ellis, and continues all the way down the roster.

Up next for Dallas is a date with Charlotte tomorrow night. This season the Hornets are allowing 23.6 assists per game, the sixth-highest mark in the league. It will take a terrific 48 minutes of ball movement to reach the 30-dime plateau yet again, but the Mavs offense is in a groove right now, and crazy things can happen when shots are falling. There are already plenty of reasons to watch this team, but the quest for 30 is one more.