Golden State Warriors Guard Monta Ellis’ Newfound Effectiveness Is a Myth

December 3rd, 2010 by Tyler Conway Leave a reply »

As many of you know, each week our NBA Featured Columnists convene to “power rank” all 30 NBA teams.  

This is not an exercise simply done to avoid each NBA columnist posting his/her individual power rankings column and inundating the site with five billion power ranking articles—it’s also a brilliant way to contribute to the marketplace of ideas.  

Most of the time, each “power ranker” is going to have a different view and therefore a different set of rankings.  Whether that influence is personal bias (i.e. hatred or love for a team), simple differences of opinion, or plain idio…um…never mind.  Regardless, seeing the various opinions of other writers who are watching the same games makes you examine your own thought process, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I know for a fact that nearly every week my power rankings strikingly differ from those other writers ranking teams.  For instance, even after their Jessica Alba-hot 11-1 start to the season, I refused to rank the New Orleans Hornets any higher than No. 6 in my rankings.  In addition, even after their Roseanne Barr-hot 9-8 start to the season, I refused to rank the Miami Heat any lower than No. 4 in my rankings.

Other than the fact I’m a blatant narcissist who misguidedly picked the Heat to win the NBA title and thought Chris Paul would be in Orlando by February, why would I not bend to what the two teams’ records showed early in the season?

Because the NBA is a league predicated on large sample sizes. Because I am a believer in looking beyond the record.  And, of course, because I’m simply a misguided narcissist.  

But, mainly, it’s because the NBA is a league structured based on large sample sizes and predictability.  No one in their right mind, despite all of the glaring chinks in the Superfriends’ armor, would pick New Orleans to beat Miami in a seven-game series.  And, in the playoffs, that’s what all teams have to do—win over the long haul.  

Now I know what you’re all thinking, “What in the blue hell does this have to do with Monta Ellis?”

The answer, once again, is large sample sizes.

At the beginning of the season, lost under the shuffle of Miami Heat news and the surprising burst out of the gate by the New Orleans Hornets, the Golden State Warriors bolted to a 6-2 start behind blossoming superstar Stephen Curry and unadulterated scoring machine Monta Ellis.

Curry’s emergence was expected to anyone who watched his growth with the U.S. National Team in the World Basketball Championships this summer, as well as the simple fact that NBA players’ greatest growth is usually between their first and second seasons.

On the other hand, Ellis came as a complete shock to me at least.

It had always been my personal opinion that Ellis was a wannabe poor man’s Allen Iverson, an overrated sixth man who was masquerading as a star on a team whose system is the only one he could thrive in. He is also a defensive liability and a horrible teammate.  

Eight games into the seaso,  it looked like Ellis had made a complete turnaround in all of those areas, defensive liability excepted.  (Don’t let Ellis’ steals stats fool you, he’s one of the worst defensive guards in the NBA.)

Still I treaded the waters while others showered Ellis praise as a guy who “turned a corner” because the defining characteristic of guys like Ellis is that, at any time, they can go on a hot streak where the basket feels as if they’re shooting it into Jenna Jameson’s, um, feminine parts.  On the other hand, Ellis can just as easily shoot you out of a game with his unwillingness to temper his style on off nights.

So, needless to say, I wanted to see it over (I know you’re already sick of this phrase) an extended sample size.  

Then, in all honesty, my attention to Monta Ellis’ career arc got lost in the shuffle of being a full-time college student, working a part-time job and being mentally lost in the week following the release of Kanye West’s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. (Seriously people, I mean I would marry Taylor Swift in a heartbeat like most men on the planet, but how does her new album double Kanye’s first week sales? Seriously.)

So when my editor came to me at the beginning of the week with an idea of covering Ellis’ newfound effectiveness, I assumed, knowing that my editor is great at what he does, that Ellis had continued his terror.  

Then I began looking at stats.  

Granted Ellis had improved on his shot percentage (although last season was his lowest since his rookie season) and toned down the turnovers (down from 3.8 TOPG last season to 2.8 so far this year), but every other statistical category was either down from last season or simply on par.

So, I did what I always do in these situations and began doing extensive research.  I studied advanced metrics (Ellis has a slight improvement in PER and Total Shot Percentage, but still has a way-too-high-for-someone-of-his-skills 26.3 Usage Rate) and skimmed through some games to see if he had made a marked improvement on the defensive end. I saw nothing.  

Could it be that we fell victim to the assumption that Ellis’ hot start was something indicative of an improvement as a player, when in reality, it was simply a hot start?  I think so.

Ellis is a player whose best role is as a super sixth man on a good team that lacks an explosive punch coming off the bench, not as a cornerstone piece to a rebuilding franchise.  

Disagree?  Well, good luck trying to convince me and the Miami Heat, a.k.a the fourth-best team in the NBA, otherwise.  

(Yes, I realize I wrote this column a night after Ellis went off against Phoenix…in a loss. See these guns?  Yep, sticking to them.)


Week 13 NFL Picks

Last Week:  7-9

This Season:  85-86-6

This Week:  1-0 (picked Philly -8)


Buffalo (+5.5) over Minnesota

Cleveland (+5) over Miami

Denver (+9) over Kansas City

Washington (+7) over NY Giants

Chicago (-5) over Detroit

Green Bay (-9.5) over San Francisco

New Orleans (-7) over Cincinnati

Oakland (+13) over San Diego

Atlanta (-3) over Tampa Bay

Carolina (+6) over Seattle

Arizona (+3.5) over St. Louis

Pittsburgh (+3) over Baltimore

NY Jets (+4) over New England

Read more NBA news on


Comments are closed.