Free-agent guard Monta Ellis has whittled his list of preferred teams down to the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Bobcats this summer, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine.
The 27-year-old would be wise to choose the Hawks.
It all comes down to the better fit for Ellis. It's long been debated what his actual position or role should be. He's a smaller guard who can score on shooting guards, but has trouble defending them.
The short of it is that Ellis would be the ideal sixth man, coming in to inject life into a team off the bench with his scoring ability. But we all know that's not happening. He wants to start, and neither of the four teams he has looked at appears to be going against that.
So, the question becomes, is Ellis a point guard or a shooting guard?
Ellis works better as a point guard than a shooting guard. Last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, he registered a higher PER as a point guard than a shooting guard, via 82games.com. And, naturally, shooting guards had a higher PER against him than point guards did.
People will say that Ellis is a shoot-first guard, and that may be true. But he also has never been given much of a chance at point guard either. As a shooting guard, he's naturally been asked to score.
However, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted in February, Ellis can do quite well when he's asked to play point guard. After the J.J. Redick trade, Ellis received more minutes at the point. He finished the Feb. 26 game against the Dallas Mavericks as a point guard, registering nine assists in the process. In the next game against the Houston Rockets, he posted 13 assists.
Milwaukee won both games.
The reality is, we all know Ellis can get to the rim almost at will, and he's actually not a bad passer, either.
Also, one of the gripes about Ellis has been his curious desire to shoot a high volume of three-pointers despite converting at a 32 percent clip for his career. You have to wonder, if he's thrust into the point guard role, will he be more willing to attack the rim?
So, in the sense of calling Ellis a point guard, his best fit is with the Hawks.
Broussard wrote in his report: "Atlanta is looking to replace Jeff Teague with Ellis, and a sign-and-trade deal with Milwaukee is a strong possibility."
Broussard added: "New Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was a longtime assistant in San Antonio, and he views Ellis as a point guard in the mold of Tony Parker, according to a source."
The Kings, Mavericks and Bobcats appear to be viewing Ellis as a shooting guard.
However, when considering Ellis as a point guard, he may not only be a strong addition to the Hawks, but a move to Atlanta might actually make him a more effective player in the NBA, as well.