Mark Jackson took over the Golden State Warriors head coaching position this season with aspirations of a change of attitude for the team. Jackson wanted a defensive minded team that had the potential to compete for a playoff spot.
It certainly isn’t a quick fix situation for the Warriors who have started the year just 5-10 falling most recently to the Indiana Pacers 94-91 at home when a Stephen Curry three-point attempt as time expired clanged off the backboard.
There have been some bright spots however in Golden State coming in the changing and maturing of Monta Ellis’ game. Jackson has definitely had an effect on the young star. Jackson was one of the great passers of all-time (No. 3 in career assists) and also was known for having one of the better back-to-the-basket games among point guards.
This year Ellis has improved as a passer and is also now taking his game into the post more. Ellis is averaging a career-high 7.0 assists per game and is ninth in the league dishing out 3.1 assists per game at the rim for layups or dunks.
Ellis posted up looking to score just 2.7 percent of the time a year ago averaging just 0.83 points per possession (PPP). This year Ellis is posting up 9.4 percent of the time and leading the league with a 1.31 PPP.
He’s ahead of players such as Dwight Howard (0.88 PPP), Kobe Bryant (0.98 PPP) and LeBron James (0.96 PPP). Granted, Ellis has taken fewer shots from the post this season than those players, but his 15-for-23 shooting mark is still impressive.
Ellis made 5-of-6 shots in post-up situations vs. Indiana Friday night and almost pulled out the comeback victory for the Warriors. He made his last three shots down the stretch in the final two minutes before turning the ball over at half-court when George Hill made the steal then game-winning hoop for Indiana.
Ellis has primarily gone with the fade-away when posting up to hurt his opponents. We’ve always known of the supreme athlete that Ellis is in the league and his ability to finish at the rim.
One of Ellis and so many superstar’s issues however is settling for long two-point jump shots (Ellis is seventh in the NBA attempting 6.3 per game). The emphasis of getting a talent like Ellis closer to the rim and in position to take better shots is a great adjustment by Jackson.
Ellis is playing the best basketball of his career this season and his fourth in the NBA among shooting guards with a 19.67 PER rating. The players in front of him are Manu Ginobili, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant.
Ellis is playing like an All-Star and is currently seventh in vote getting among the West guards.
Maturity has always been something questioned when it comes to Monta Ellis and it looks like Mark Jackson could be the answer for him. It hasn’t resulted in a ton of wins yet but getting the Warriors headed in the right direction was Jackson’s first step as their new coach and he’s definitely done that.