Thursday, June 19, 2008

Irish Warriors 2007-2008 report card: Monta Ellis

He really took his game to another level this year. His became a reliable offensive weapon, partially filling the void left by Jason Richardson. There’s no question this dude has the potential to be the next. But looking at just this season, he was atrocious on defense, and that hurt the Warriors in the long run. If Baron is going to play 40 minutes, Monta has to guard the Allen Iversons, the Chris Pauls, the Tony Parkers, etc. He couldn’t this season. His best defense was getting 30 himself. Plus, Monta has the tendency to force offense and take quick shots at the wrong time. He was excellent on the boards, though, and he’s already a much better ball-handler than he used to be.

During the middle third of the season, when the Warriors often struggled against average to poor teams, Ellis was the player most often arriving with clutch shooting or spectacular drives to bail out the team. He grew during this stretch from just one of the Warriors’ options into their go-to scorer when points became hard to find. His mid-range jump shot has become a thing of beauty, the death-defying thrill of his drives still hasn’t worn off, and he played for most of the season with a good sense of his strengths and weaknesses. Davis, Jackson, Harrington, and Biedrins all stumbled at points this year. Monta never let up.

The ultimate question for Monta is no longer will he be a superstar, but rather what type of superstar. He’s already one of the most effortless scorers in the league, able to shoot over small, quick players and blow past taller, slower ones. It became clear at the end of the season, however, that Monta scoring at will is not enough for the Warriors to succeed against the best teams, particularly with Davis struggling. For Monta to be a marquee player — the type you build your team around — he needs to improve his playmaking and defense. The prior area I’m not too worried about. Monta is still terrifyingly young, showed improved court vision and decision making this year, and steadily took over the responsibility of running the team as the season progressed. He’s not a born distributor but shows clear signs of being able to hold down the point spot the same way Iverson and Wade have

Overall grade A+

Irish Warriors Report Card Archive

Chris mullin C+

Kelenna Azubuike C-

Matt Barnes D-

Marco Bellineli D+

Andris Biedrins A-

Austin Croshere C-

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