Can Mavs make Monta Ellis efficient again?
That came straight out of Monta Ellis’ mouth, delivered as the conclusion of a classic sound bite during an interview with Fox Sports Wisconsin last season, in which he declared that he was on the same level with Dwyane Wade. Well, other than wins and championships.
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The grammar can be forgiven. After all, it’s not like Ellis is a millionaire because he got good grades at Lanier High in Jackson, Miss., before jumping straight to the NBA. The problem is that Ellis actually believes what he says, which explains why he’s become the modern-day model for NBA inefficiency.
Monta Ellis definitely does not have it all. If the Mavs can get him to realize that, the three-year deal in the $25 million range might be money well spent.
Step one is to get Ellis to stop taking long, pull-up jumpers. For Ellis, those shots are like sweets for a fat kid. The Mavs can’t let Ellis keep reaching into the cookie jar.
The problem is Ellis launches a lot of those looks and doesn’t make very many. According to ESPN Stats and Information, he shot the lowest percentage on off-the-dribble jumpers in the league last season among players who took at least 250 of them, hitting a paltry 32.3 percent.
On a related note, Ellis also ranked last in the league among qualifiers in 3-point percentage (28.7 percent). Yet Ellis hoisted 328 of them, four per game.
No wonder Ellis shot just 41.6 percent from the floor last season, the second-lowest among players who averaged at least 15 points per game.
Ellis hasn’t always been so inefficient, but it’s a trend that has taken a drastic downturn in the last few seasons. He was actually once an extreme high-efficiency scorer, averaging 20.2 points on 53.1 percent shooting as a 22-year-old in 2007-08, when he attempted less than one 3-pointer per game.
The Mavs need to get Ellis to play to his strengths again, which means making him understand his limitations. Open spot-up 3s are acceptable, but other than that, his shots should come almost solely from attacking the basket off drives and in transition.
The hope from the Dallas front office, which reached for Ellis after all the other impact free agents were off the board and Devin Harris’ dislocated toe was discovered, is that the personnel here is uniquely suited to put Ellis in position to succeed.
Jose Calderon will be the first pass-first point guard to be paired with Ellis during the eight-year veteran’s NBA career. Dirk Nowitzki will be the biggest offensive threat to play with Ellis. And Rick Carlisle is the most creative offensive coach to work with Ellis.
That means that Ellis should be able to get a lot of high-quality looks. The Mavs need Ellis, a career 19.2-point-per-game scorer, to put up numbers, but not as a volume scorer. He should have space to do what he does best, especially when he’s on the floor with three guys who were 40-plus-percent 3-point shooters last season (Calderon, Nowitzki and Vince Carter).
None of that matters if Ellis thinks it’s a good idea to jack up contested 3s and 20-footers off the bounce.
Less is more with Monta Ellis, who can’t have it all if he’s going to help the Mavs win.
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