Monta Ellis goes freeD
Check out some of Monta Ellis' handywork from Friday night's game in glorious 360-degrees!
Year in Review: Monta Ellis
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.