Monta Ellis: Best Player No One Seems to Care About

Jonathan ReynoldsContributor IIIJanuary 26, 2012

Monta Ellis is consistently one of the best scorers in the NBA.
Monta Ellis is consistently one of the best scorers in the NBA.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Monta Ellis is easily one of the best guards in the NBA.

Golden State Warriors' fans have known this for years, but it’s time for the rest of us to come around as well.

Since being drafted 40th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, Ellis has averaged over 16 points per game—six times in his seven-year NBA career. He finished in the top 10 in scoring each of the last two seasons, and in the top three in steals per game in each of the last two seasons.

His only playoff appearance came in 2007, when the Warriors made their miraculous postseason run to upset the number-one seed Dallas Mavericks in six games before falling to the Utah Jazz in the second round.

He has done everything he can to push the Warriors night in and night out to reclaim a spot in the postseason showcase. Ellis won the NBA Most Improved Player Award for the 2006-2007 season, and his play has continued to improve since 

The years of disappointing seasons could soon be behind him. The Warriors have since drafted sharpshooter Stephen Curry out of Davidson College and acquired All-Star forward David Lee from the New York Knicks in a trade that sent Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and a 2012 second-round draft pick to New York.

With former ESPN and ABC commentator Mark Jackson (who sits third on the NBA's list of All-Time assists leaders) running the show as the new head coach, the ceiling for this young Warriors club could be higher than many had previously expected.

In this lockout-shortened season, many teams have been off to surprisingly rough starts with the Warriors being no different. At 6-11, the Warriors sit four games behind the currently ninth-seeded Dallas Mavericks (11-8)—in a run that has included wins over the Bulls, Knicks, Heat and Trail Blazers.

This season is crucial for Monta Ellis and his legacy as an NBA player. He has the potential to become an elite scorer.

He could either go the route of a Kevin Martin and quietly continue to score without any wins attached, or he could accept his role as leader of the Warriors and mold himself into more of a Carmelo Anthony-type and bring a winning attitude to the Warriors organization for the first time since the Run TMC days of the early 90’s with Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin.

Ellis has the ability to become an All-Star in the NBA. It’s up to him to convince everyone else.