“There’s a lot of guys that take a lot of bad shots in this league. I’m gonna play Monta-ball.” – Monta Ellis
“Lol, ya, okay Monta. What does that even mean?” – Basketball fans everywhere
Based on his last few years of play – especially last season in Milwaukee – it made sense that Monta’s comments were scoffed at by many. But after a few months, it’s clear what Monta meant.
Monta-ball means 20 points and 6 assists a night. Monta-ball means 45 percent shooting (best percentage since 2007-08). Monta-ball means making tough shots. Monta-ball means game winners. Monta-ball means occasionally frustrating fans with ill-advised shot selection. Monta-ball means excitement. Monta-ball means having it all. But most of all, Monta-ball is why we watch.
Even as an ardent Monta supporter, there’s no denying he had a rough time in Milwaukee – especially last year. Sure he scored points, but somebody had to on the Bucks. And when you shoot just 41 percent from the floor, it’s hard to justify taking over 17 shots a night.
Monta’s never been afraid to shoot; that’s just who he is. (For his career he’s averaged over 16 shots a night.) But he used to make more of them. In 2007-08, he shot 53 percent from the floor, including an impressive 63.8 percent at the rim. He was poised to be a star.
And then he got hurt.
Before the 2008-09 season, Monta tore a ligament in his ankle during a moped accident and only played 25 games that year.
Since 07-08, Monta has still scored like crazy, but his percentages and reputation around the league have trended downward – until this year.
Many across the league looked at his three-year deal with the Mavericks skeptically, especially after his performance in Milwaukee last year. The “Monta-ball” comment didn’t help either. But the Mavericks hoped he could turn it around playing with Dirk Nowitzki and Jose Calderon.
They couldn’t have been more correct.
He’s running the two-man game with Dirk and attacking the basket with a recklessness usually reserved for players with much larger than his 6-foot-3, 185 pound frame. He’s darting around the court and getting into the paint – both to score and to create for others – with ease. His shooting has jumped 4 percent from last year to 45.7 percent and he’s averaging 20 points a night. In short, he’s thriving.
Whether you like Monta or not – and you should because he’s awesome – there’s no denying that he’s exciting to watch. (He wasn’t nicknamed the “Mississippi Missile” for nothing.) And this year, well he’s been as enjoyable as ever.
Sure he has his faults, but who doesn’t? Well LeBron, but who besides LeBron doesn’t have faults? Sometimes he’ll shoot too much or take poor shots, and he does turn the ball over a bit more than you’d like, but neither of those things are the end of the world – especially considering what he provides for the team.
Monta Ellis is a fast, fearless and formidable scorer. Monta Ellis have it all. And that is why we watch.