Most importantly, while it’s still early, it looks as though the two-man game that was so desperately missing last year will make a triumphant return this year. In the past, it was executed with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry. This season, it will be Monta Ellis filling in for the role of Terry.
For the bulk of their time together in Dallas, Terry and Nowitzki played off of each other, creating scoring space to knock down open jump shots. After Terry left the team, the Mavericks thought that O.J. Mayo could fill a similar role, but for whatever reason that never really worked out and Mayo never got in a good rhythm with Dirk.
Just judging from the first three preseason games, especially the most recent one, Ellis already has far more chemistry with Dirk than Mayo ever did. Seeing Dirk and Ellis pass the ball back and forth until one of them is open and then drain the wide open shot immediately calls to mind Terry doing the same thing.
This isn’t necessarily to say that Ellis and Terry are the same, as they are actually have very different play styles. For instance, Ellis is better than Terry ever was attacking the basket, but Terry is one of the top long-range shooters of all-time, a phrase that has never been used to describe Ellis.
I’m constantly reminding people not to get too worked up over the preseason, so I’ll need to be sure to temper my expectations as well. After all, it’s not the same level of competition as they’ll face during the regular season. However, the mere prospect of having a player that can play so well alongside Dirk is incredibly exciting in itself.