The Dallas Mavericks took a chance this offseason by bringing in former Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis. Many thought he simply would not work no matter where he played due to his style and shot selection. Ellis was notorious for taking a lot of shots — and several of them were always just plain bad. His shooting percentage had also declined quite a bit as well over the years.
About a quarter into the season now, Ellis and his Mavericks have looked like a different player and team respectively. Just a couple of games above .500, the Mavs still have work to do, but there have been games that Dallas looked like a true contender. A big reason why? Ellis.
The two seasons he spent with the Bucks, Ellis shot 41.6 and 43.2 percent from the field. Early in his career with the Golden State Warriors, he posted a career high in shooting percentage two years straight; both his sophomore year (47.5) and third season in 2007-2008 (53.1). As his career went on, his shooting percentage dipped a bit but he has been able to get his assists per game up into the five-to-six range.
This season, Ellis is averaging a very impressive 46.9 percent from the field, his highest since that career mark in the 2007 season. He’s also shooting 36.5 percent from beyond the arc — a career high if he were to end the season at that number. His 21.4 points per game this season is his third-highest total of the eight years he’s been in the league.
Dallas knew they had guys who could score the basketball, but you kind of had a feeling that Ellis would be the one taking the majority of the shots. Whether that would bode well for Dallas, well, that was up in the air. Thus far, he’s truly helped this club become a better team and have a legitimate shot to get into postseason play.
If the season ended today, I’d say Ellis should be in the conversation for the league’s most improved player. It wouldn’t be based off of the majority of his stats, but simply due to the improvement he’s made in shooting the ball as well as how he’s been able to adjust his style to the Mavs’ offense. Ironically enough, Ellis has already won the award in the 2006-2007 season; could he do it again?
Next to the Phoenix Suns’ Eric Bledsoe, Ellis has made one of the bigger contributions to his new team this season. He is more than deserving to be looked at in that select group of players, and hopefully at the end of the year his name gets strong consideration.