Once upon a time, Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis was in the conversation as the second-best player at his position in the NBA behind Kobe Bryant. From the moment Monta signed with the Mavericks during the offseason, Ellis became the second-most important player in Dallas.
This is the same player who averaged 19 points, four rebounds and six assists per game last season for a Milwaukee Bucks team that shocked many analysts by making it to the playoffs. Ellis and former backcourt mate Brandon Jennings were the Bucks’ primary offensive weapons last season, thus they bore the brunt of the Miami Heat defense. Both suffered mightily against the eventual champions.
In Dallas, Ellis will be called upon to be pretty much the same player he has been since his days with the Golden State Warriors. He is expected to score the basketball prolifically and efficiently. He is also expected to play the passing lanes and effectively defend his opposite on defense. While no one is expecting him to lock down the Dwyane Wades or James Hardens of the world, it is reasonable to assume he’ll do his best to see that they don’t score 30 or 40 points.
Another area of concern is likely to be Ellis’ ability to mesh with the Mavs’ resident superstar Dirk Nowitzki. Though he has a reputation as being a bit of a chucker, Monta’s ability to run the point has improved greatly. He averaged a career-high six assists per game last season.
Don’t look now, but it is not beyond the realm of possibilities to see Ellis become Dallas’ assist leader next season. He certainly has the ability to do so. Though he has had a rough preseason, expect Monta to get around 20 points and seven assists per game this season.
Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance writer for Rant Sports based in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.