On Monday night as the Dallas Mavericks opened up their 2013 NBA preseason play against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Mavericks saw one of their guards step up in his time on the floor. Not only did this guard contribute 13 points on 45.4 percent shooting, but he also added seven assists while turning the ball over twice.
Even if I told you that the Mavericks guard who put up those numbers was a newcomer to the team, you probably would still wrongly guess Jose Calderon. Calderon wasn’t active for the game, though, still dealing with the injury. Said Dallas guard was actually the much talked about, often criticized Monta Ellis.
Though I have certainly been critical of Ellis’ play and over his recent comments about him playing “Monta-ball” this season, I have to admit that his performance on Monday night against the Pelicans deserves some respect. Though 13 points on 11 shots doesn’t sound great, his shot-selection was hardly crazy and he wasn’t acting like a loose-cannon on the offensive end, either. In fact, with Calderon out Ellis actually looked quite solid facilitating the offense a lot of times and making plays for himself and for teammates.
Ellis has always been somewhat unpredictable when it comes to what he does on the basketball court from a game-to-game basis. Many times he has shown flashes of being the player he was on Monday night, but then reverts back to being the same trigger-happy guard that people skewer him for being. For all I know, this could be one of those cases. In the interest of overreacting to small sample sizes, though, Ellis on Monday night looked like the player the Mavs need him to be this season. I wouldn’t start printing “Monta for MVP” t-shirts or anything just yet, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that what he showed against the Pelicans was a cause for optimism.