Monday, October 8th, 2012 at 3:00 pm  |  29 responses

Top 50: Monta Ellis, no. 37

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup

The year was 2003 and even though the games in the AAU tournament were played in the mean streets of Detroit, one player was cool as a cucumber: Monta Ellis. Coaches and players alike watched in amazement at how easy he made the game look, whether the ball was in his hands or coming off a screen, Monta was an unguardable force.

Not much has changed since then. Now an NBA player, the Mississippi native possesses one of the most lethal first steps in the League. Monta is the cause of many sleepless nights for opposing coaches, due to his affinity to push the tempo of the game and his elite finishing skills in transition.

Despite his small stature, Ellis has a great shot selection, shooting over 46 percent for his career. The combo guard also knows how to get to the line, averaging close to 5 attempts per game last year (more than All-Stars like Joe Johnson and Andre Iguodala, for example). Yet despite all the chunky stat lines he has distributed, seven years into his career, I still feel he is one of the NBA’s most under-appreciated players.

Many only know Monta for his comments about NBA darling Stephen Curry, when he said they might not mesh well together (which they didn’t). The were many down points, bad trades and draft picks by Golden State in the past 10 years, but Ellis wasn’t one of them. The Lanier HS native was a steal in the second round considering the production they got out of him, averaging close to 26 points per game a couple years back. Despite his production, they shipped him out to Milwaukee.

This will be a chance for a fresh start for Monta. True, Milwaukee’s backcourt will be small, but there are many reasons to think this experiment will be a success. The Bucks are still led by head coach Scott Skiles, who implements a very guard-friendly offense that will allow Ellis to create. An overlooked statistic of Ellis is his assist per game totals. Throughout the years Monta has become a more willing passer, distributing close to 6 per game in the past three seasons. I expect Monta and Brandon Jennings to find a way to feed off of each other, and with the speed that backcourt possesses, it could make them one of the most productive ones in the NBA.

Monta may be playing in a small market, but expect big numbers from the crafty shooting guard this year. Monta possesses a SportsCenter friendly game that will on full display for the masses. The food has been made; you guys can do the dishes.

Where should Monta Ellis rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13
43 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 12
42 Al Horford Hawks C 7
41 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 10
40 Danny Granger Pacers SF 6
39 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 11
38 John Wall Wizards PG 9
37 Monta Ellis Bucks SG 8

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/HolyBaller Dillan Leu

    Seriously? Come on people. Too many turnovers, not enough control, has never been a winner. Yes, he can put up some amazing offensive numbers, but I just don’t think he belongs this far into the rankings. Mark my words: Monta Ellis will never get close to winning a championship, on any team.

  • Perry the PlatyPteranodon

    Carmelo shoots the mid range, after his 17th jab step, it misses off the back iron, and Kevin Love grabs the board, and passes out to Monta yelling “Clear the ball!”, Monta catches it, whilst his opposing match up, Kyrie Irving, watches him, not even attempting to guard. Meanwhile, around the top of the key, Amare just sort of lazily drifts around, his team doesn’t have the ball, and his match up Blake Griffin just keeps cutting back to the net in the hopes of an alley oop, or some other form of his three ways to score. Meanwhile, the crowd goes into a fever pitch, as neither team side has even acknowledged that there is an area past the half court line. Fed up, both Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett yelled, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, GET BACK ON D’”.
    Monta, who just dropped the ball, looked around, dumbfounded. All the players on the court, shared the same facial expression, but Blakes face was the funniest looking, and he asked, “What are you talking about, what is this D’ you speak of?”, and then, Hakeem said, “That are behind you, you know where you don’t play offense, but instead prevent the other team from scoring…” to which all the players finally saw the legendary, other side of basketball… but Melo chose to recapture the basketball, and seized upon Monta’s confusion, and picked the ball up. For one glorious moment, it seemed as if defense was being played, but instead of running the fastbreak, he just chucked the ball from 30 ft out, after 15 jab steps, while screaming at Hakeem, “Biiiiiiiitch please!” Which prompted the whole crowed to yell, “THERES MORE TO BASKETBALL THAN OFFENSE!!”, and at that moment, on the other side of the country, Steve Nash looked up from his morning newspaper and said, “I feel a disturbance in the force…”

  • LakeShow

    You spent way to much time writing this up…

  • LakeShow

    He can be a top 30 player in the right system. I don’t think that system is what they have out in Milwaukee. So good placement.

  • Perry the PlatyPteranodon

    It was strangely satisfying, also a lot easier to justify than watching “adult videos” at work… Not that I would ever do such a thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    If he got on a good team and embraced the sixth man role like Jason Terry or James Harden he would be viewed in a much higher light

  • davidR

    not a winner? you realize how bad those warrior teams were, right? he’s definitely not a first option, but make him your 3rd, maybe even 2nd option, and you will have a pretty dangerous team

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    if you can hide him defensively, he could be a on a very good team. Even as a first option. He won’t win a title that way, but he could lead a competitive team, as long as it was built to hide his glaring weaknesses – Ala Allen Iverson…although, he’s no AI, he’d need a lot more talent than AI needed.

  • TR

    If it was possible, I’d like to see the Nuggets trade one of those SFs for Ellis. I think they’d benefit from a guy like this on that team. Monta isn’t as much of a black hole as people think and he’s not scared to take big shots.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    they already have Ty Lawson doing what Ellis does. I.E. penetrate and not guard anyone.

  • danpowers

    i agree on montas positive sides that were mentioned here. i just wonder how jennings and ellis could work better in any way than curry and ellis did? two scoring guards dont really seem to work out well next to each other except their names are tim hardaway and mitch richmond

  • justin05

    lol i was thinking the same thing. Lawson has quick hands on D tho

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    it won’t be any better than Curry/Ellis was. In fact, it was worse last season.

  • Max

    This has to be one of the best comments EVER

  • danpowers

    the nuggets are perfectly set and they have got enough scoring power on this team. why take any chances with another defensive liablity?

  • danpowers

    i didnt see lawson play lately but getting steals doesnt mean good d. ellis goes for alot of steals too but oftens takes too many chances doing so which lets him fly by alot of passes having guys almost scoring at will against him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    Totally. It is!

  • ctk

    The guard version of Kevin Love …the same thing u knock Ellis for do the same to Love …they both put up numbers that mean nothing according to the masses

  • http://www.facebook.com/HolyBaller Dillan Leu

    I don’t mean in the context of team experience thus far. In my opinion, he’s just not a winner. I just don’t ever see him actually HELPING a team enough to get them to a championship, because he has to constantly have the ball in his hands and be a high volume shooter to score, but he doesn’t really bring anything else to the table. I mean time will tell, but time is running out on him and I just don’t see it happening.

  • davidR

    he’s just not a winner? how can you determine that? and what does that even mean?
    you realize when his role was kept strictly to being a scorer, he scored at a ridiculous 53% as a SG? name another guard in the past 10 years that scored more than 15 pts at that kinda fg%. not even kobe did that with shaq as his teammate.
    if you think he constantly needs the ball in his hands, then you just haven’t watched him enough. or maybe you just never payed attention to how well he cuts to the basket/moves without the ball.
    you realize that in addition to being the primary scorer on those warrior teams, he was also the primary distributor, primary creator, and primary wing defender?
    if none of those are ways to help a team contend for a championship, then i have no idea what exactly you’re arguing.

  • Slick Ric

    So james harden better than him? I think not.

  • nick

    The only good warriors team he was on was in 06, and he was second on the team in scoring and look what they did…..get this cat on a team….

  • Datkid

    Lawson is actually decent on D, I feel like. for somebody that small.

  • Datkid

    Monta should come off the bench for the heat. Him and Tyson Chandler together would make them absolutely unstoppable. Even for the lakers.

  • Datkid

    As a 6th man he can definitely contribute… as a starter? no.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    you can’t judge how good on defense he is an handicap it for height. He’s a bad defender for any height, because he isn’t good at defense. He’s better than most NBA players who are 5’9″, but he isn’t a good defender. —- Plus, Mugsy Bogues was a great defender, and he wasw 5’4″ – height can’t be viewed as a handicap for a starter on an NBA team.

  • LakeShow

    Come down from the clouds laddie.

  • Showtime

    They ‘re not 7 Sg better then the mississippi bullet..Monta is the 3rd best shoot gaurd in league. (the sg position is weak these days. Harden, J.johnson, manu. gordon, i missin one but there not better. & like i always say each year on slam show me a game were MONta got worked??? ALL wait???

  • Datkid

    LMAO how did i miss this?