Charles Barkley of TNT recently expressed his opinion that, at this point of Dirk Nowitzki‘s career, Monta Ellis is the best player on the Dallas Mavericks, and that the Mavericks need Ellis to basically lead the way in order for them to advance in the playoffs.
The question of whether Ellis was the best player on the Mavericks seemed legitimate early on in the season, but that was pretty much silenced when Nowitzki reestablished himself as an elite NBA player. That, of course, is not taking anything away from Ellis’ contributions, as he has been excellent all season long, but surpassing the man who has carried the Mavericks on his back for the last 10 plus seasons takes more than a lot.
As ridiculous and unserious as Barkley can be at times, his comments do bring up a legitimate question — are the Mavericks Ellis’ team now?
The playoffs are a crash course. We saw how the Oklahoma City Thunder zoomed past these same San Antonio Spurs the Mavericks dueled with two seasons ago. Manu Ginobli then considered the possibility that the Thunder may have won because they were younger and had more energy.
Thus far, the younger, faster Ellis has had back-to-back 20-plus point games, including 29 points in last night’s Game 2 victory over the Spurs. Ellis was 12-for-22, and like recent big games down the stretch, has discovered his frequently-absent 3-pointer.
Nowitzki, on the flip side, has yet to have a breakout game in the series, in spite of his 18 points last night. It seems like the torch is being passed, so to speak, but the last time it seemed that way, Nowitzki broke out in hives. Either way, the fact is, the question legitimately being asked is too positive a thing for the confident Mavericks.