The Last Ballad of the Warrior
Monta Ellis is the epitome of underdog. Undersized, mispronounced name, inefficient, worse than Lou Williams. Doubters have plenty of molotov cocktails to chuck at his already burning heart. Yet for a small group he is the subject of pure affinity. A common man hero among many egotistical supermen, a constant all-star snub, able to match the toughness of Kobe Bryant while providing the flash of Dwayne Wade any night. A man capable of taking the last shot and able to make it. The Mississippi Bullet, damn well near the only honest nickname in the league, is an apt description.
A player with no Twitter or extravagant personality, who has kept (relative) distance from the headlines. A currently open harassment scandal, a mistake on a mo-ped causing a mired season, and a little restlessness with the management (about being constant trade bait and bringing in his replacement before giving him a shot at running the team), have been his only missed shots off the court. On the court is where he is seemingly embattled even more by public perception. A shot taker instead of a play maker with no will to play defense. He has only inflated stats due to a weird up-tempo system on a consistently terrible team and has a bad shooting percentage. Arguably lack of leadership and quality players is a major contributor to these claims against him. Don Nelson for too long encouraged lots of shots and little defense, playing with multiple D-League players, Monta was asked to take the bulk of the shots. Without many reliable teammates he had a hard time playing out of position as a distributor and has been a regular league leader in steals with a 1.7 SPG career average. A relentless attacker of the rim even while playing the most minutes per game in two of the last three years. Maybe he takes too many long twos, but he has a proficient midrange game along with an improved three ball. He shoots .465% for his career despite having to raise his shot attempts up by 5-7 more per game once becoming a starter. So maybe he wasn’t a true point guard or great defender but he was, still is, a true warrior able to hang with the big boys and make the shots needed to win games.
The perfect sleeper player, never an All-Star, only on TV for Top 10 plays and trade rumors. Unfortunately the reasoning behind that is because he was never a winner. Considerably capable of being a star yet he never reached those lofty reserved heights. This was a hard post to write because of the affinity I have for Monta, the player who’s spin move I try to emulate when I play. He was the Golden State Warriors as far as I am concerned, and it is satisfying to see a great number of posts reflecting love for him as opposed to animosity. As a pure basketball player Monta is easily one of the best pound for pound. He plays hard and gives his body to the game every night while completing incredible, nay, impossible maneuvers on the court. For some people that wasn’t enough, they wanted statistical proof that he was a good player. A shame when all they had to do was open their eyes and watch the man play his heart out…