The Dallas Mavericks' mission for the last two years has been to make Dirk Nowitzki the second-best player on their roster. After missing out on the top free agents, the Mavs have again reloaded their roster with hopes that they found the next-best thing: a surefire sidekick.
"I'm actually coming to be Dirk's sidekick," new guard Monta Ellis said at the team's introductory press conference Thursday afternoon.
Ellis, 27, chuckled when asked if he is ready to step up and have Nowitzki as his sidekick.
The guard spent a season and a half in Milwaukee, and it seemed like he never could click with his new teammates as he did when he was with the Golden State Warriors. Ellis said he had to do "60 percent of everything" with his previous teams. Now with the Mavs, he's hoping he can just be a piece to the puzzle, alongside Nowitzki.
"It's a great opportunity," Ellis continued. "It's a new beginning. I'm looking forward to it."
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle echoed a statement he made to ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon earlier this summer when he said that he's probably the fastest player that has ever put on a uniform in Mavs history. And he's looking forward to what Ellis can bring as a running mate with Nowitzki.
"He's a very good play-maker," Carlisle said of Ellis. "When you play with a guy like Dirk, there's going to be more space on the floor, which is going to help Monta. His speed is going to compliment Dirk well and he's going to compliment the rest of our team."
The Mavs will need just about every single one of the new players introduced on Thursday to be a contributor and take the pressure off Nowitzki, but the brunt of the responsibility will fall on Ellis' shoulders as the Mavs attempt to once again become a legitimate playoff contender.
Dallas needs Ellis to deliver with his ability to get to the rim and play off the pick-and-roll. They have seen what J.J. Barea can do to an opposing defense when he works in that setting. Unfortunately, they also saw what can happen when someone like Darren Collison tries to work off the same situations. The hope is that Ellis' ability to be an offensive catalyst will bring that added dynamic to the team's "flow" offense that they've missed for quite some time. Based on what he's heard through communication with his coach, Ellis likes the potential that can come within the offense.
"I think the system that coach has is a great one for me," Ellis said.
With the proper direction, the hope is that the system allows the dynamic guard to get back to his days in Golden State where he averaged well over 20 points per game, while looking to reign in his shot attempts as he took the fourth-highest amount of shots last season. Out of the top 10 volume shooters in the league, Ellis' shooting percentage (.416) was the worst.
Many analysts assume the cast of characters the Mavs have brought on board are mainly a group of guys who have been written off, thrown under the bus and left for basketball purgatory. Naysayers or not, the new shooting guard is looking ahead with optimism.
"It's a great organization and a great team that we have," Ellis added. "I'm very excited and I always dreamed of playing with an organization as good as Dallas, so to be here and play with a Hall of Famer like Dirk makes everything easier and much smoother. Hopefully we can get back to Dallas Mavericks basketball and competing the way we should."
Whether he's the main man or riding in the sidecar along with Nowitzki, Ellis will have to do what he can do best: Score.