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NBA AM: Are We Selling Monta Ellis Short?
Posted By Lang Greene On September 13, 2013 @ 9:22 am In NBA | No Comments
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Is Doubting The Mavericks’ Signing Of Monta Ellis A Mistake? The Dallas Mavericks entered the summer with plenty of salary cap room, a former league and Finals MVP in Dirk Nowitzki and big dreams of shaking up the power structure in the Western Conference. But the team was unable to lure a high profile free agent to town to pair alongside Nowitzki, leading many to believe the summer was a disappointment.
All-Star center Dwight Howard opted to take his talents three hours south down I-45, spurning the Mavericks’ overtures in the process, in order to join the emerging Houston Rockets. High scoring center Al Jefferson wasn’t sold as well, electing to sign with the rebuilding Charlotte Bobcats instead of becoming Nowitzki’s sidekick in Dallas.
Ellis is undoubtedly the marquee signing amongst the new cast of characters headed to Dallas this season. The team signed the high scoring guard to a lucrative three-year $25 million deal and believe his game could be the perfect complement beside Nowitzki in the lineup.
Most dismissed the Mavericks’ talk of Ellis being the team’s co-star alongside Nowitzki as a bit of lip service, but guard’s scoring ability is undeniable. Ellis, an eight year veteran, has posted four seasons of averaging at least 20 points per game and there were an additional two campaigns where the Mississippi native recorded 19 per night.
Simply put, however you try to slice it, Ellis is a certified scoring talent.
But this is the same reason most skeptics have their doubts of it working out in Dallas. Ellis is a ball dominant player and his high volume shooting exploits have led to the selfish tag being applied more and more often as his career progresses.
However, playing devil’s advocate, maybe this is exactly the type of player Dallas needed in the rotation next to an aging Nowitzki. A guy capable of shouldering the offensive load on most nights, alleviating double team pressure off of Nowitzki in the process and preserving the veteran forward for clutch time.
Yes, Ellis flamed out in the two stints he had at being a franchise player in Golden State and Milwaukee. But early in Ellis’ career, with the Warriors, he was more than solid in a secondary role behind guys such as Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson.
Ellis may very well turn out to be what most are predicting him to be in Dallas, a player who will keep fans in attendance at home games and a provider of many high scoring nights while not contributing much to winning. But games aren’t played on paper, in barbershops, talk radio or in preseason prediction columns. Maybe, just maybe, Ellis is what the doctor ordered for a Mavericks franchise who missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2000 campaign.
No Shortage Of Doubters On Denver, McGee Could Be Key: The Denver Nuggets have had a whirlwind summer after winning 57 regular season contests in 2013. The team will feature a new head coach in Brian Shaw, new front office leadership after the departure of executive Masai Ujiri to Toronto and adapt to the loss of former All-Star Andre Iguodala.
These three factors have led to many pushing the Nuggets down the Western Conference’s hierarchy heading into training camp, and rightfully so since there are plenty of legitimate questions needing to be addressed.
One area where the team could potentially get a boost in production is in the frontcourt. JaVale McGee only played 18 minutes per game in 2013 under departed coach George Karl, but from all indication Shaw plans on utilizing him much more.
“I’m definitely getting that feeling from the coaches that I’m going to be more of an impact and getting more minutes,” McGee said according to Jeff Caplan of NBA.com. “It’s really up to the coach as to how he wants to use me. It’s up to me to work and everything, and I’m going to do that. So if I work hard and I come prepared and in shape for training camp, there’s nothing that can stop me but the coach.”
McGee has the physical tools to become a full-time starter in the league, but has been plagued by bouts of inconsistency throughout his five year career. McGee believes this is the season he puts it all together on the floor.
“I feel like I’m extremely athletic, extremely fast, extremely agile for being a 7-foot big man and just need the right people behind me to be able to bring what has to come out to be a dominant center in the league,” McGee said. “There’s a lot of things that haven’t even been [brought out] of my game that people haven’t even seen. So I just feel like this is going to be the season.”
Opening the door for more minutes next season is the departure of center Kosta Koufos who was dealt to Memphis. Koufos started 81 games for Denver last season ahead of McGee on the depth chart.
For McGee, he’s embracing the clean slate the arrival of Shaw to the bench will have on his career.
“I’m definitely more mature than I was my first two or three years [in the league], but I actually was very mature last year. I just wasn’t really given the opportunity to really be what I could be,” McGee said. “But I feel like this coach has a lot more confidence in me.”
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