Wayne Ellington: Trade to Cavs Is Last Chance for Former UNC Star to Save Career

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIJanuary 22, 2013

Jan 21, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Wayne Ellington (3) attempts a shot against the Indiana Pacers during the first half at the FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Ellington's NBA career has been largely disappointing, but his recent trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers may be his best chance at finding success (ESPN). Through four-plus years in the league, he has averaged only 6.3 points per game on 41 percent shooting from the field.

This season, he's making only 41 percent of his shots from the field, but he's been good on 42 percent from deep. That is no doubt part of what made him attractive to the Cavs.

The other side of his appeal lies in the fact that he's a restricted free agent at the end of the season. If he doesn't work out, the Cavs can cut ties with him.

Coming out of North Carolina in 2009, Ellington was billed as a sharp-shooter with decent upside as a scorer. Ellington averaged 14.7 points in three years at Chapel Hill, but a lack of elite athleticism saw him fall to 28th in the 2009 NBA draft.

Considering his performance as a professional, I'd say his draft position has been justified.

Ellington will never be a great ball-handler, and he'll never excel at creating his own shot. The key to any success he'll have at the NBA level is tied to his ability to knock down open jump shots.

This is something he's failed to do consistently throughout his career.

As a member of the Cavaliers, he'll at least get the opportunity to play alongside a point guard that excels at penetrating and dishing. Mike Conley is as quick as they come, but he doesn't draw the same attention on the drive that Kyrie Irving does.

Ellington did play with Ricky Rubio last season, but even in Rubio's playmaking wizardry, Ellington wouldn't get the same types of looks he can get playing off Irving.

If the 25-year-old is to make anything more of his career, he needs to take advantage of this opportunity. The Cavs have a lot of weaknesses, but one of their biggest is inconsistent outside shooting.

They are just 18th in the NBA in three-point percentage as a team, and that contributes to their overall scoring deficiencies. They are ranked just 21st in the NBA in points per game.

This team is being built around Irving and his ability to get to the basket and create. To space the floor for him, the Cavs must have shooters.

If Ellington can prove himself trustworthy in that role, then this will be his most successful stint in the NBA. Even if the Cavs chose not to bring him back, he can make himself appealing to others as he heads into free agency.


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