Is Monta Ellis Enough to Get Dallas Mavericks Back to Playoffs?

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Is Monta Ellis Enough to Get Dallas Mavericks Back to Playoffs?
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In their quest to make it back into the playoffs, ESPN.com's Marc Stein is reporting that the Dallas Mavericks signed Monta Ellis to a three-year deal worth at least $25 million.

However, is the addition of Ellis enough to give them the extra boost that they didn't have last season?

This offseason, the Mavericks have watched as O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Chris Kaman walked in free agency, replacing them with Ellis, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Gal Mekel, Shane Larkin—who has a broken ankle—and Ricky Ledo.

Elton Brand, Rodrigue Beaubois and Brandan Wright make up their remaining free agents. According to CBS Sports' Matt Moore, the New York Knicks are interested in Brand. Meanwhile, The Dallas Morning News' Eddie Sefko suggests that Rodrigue Beaubois is probably on his way out whereas Brandan Wright is likely to stay.

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What they've done is pursue a backcourt-heavy approach, while taking big swings and missing on the likes of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.

In order to salvage their frontcourt—and save Dirk Nowitzki from playing center with the extreme lack of big men—Stein writes that the Mavericks are also targeting Samuel Dalembert.

With that in mind, questions arise over what their rotation will look like and whether it will be one that nudges them toward the playoffs.

A starting lineup of Calderon, Ellis, Shawn Marion, Nowitzki and Bernard James—the only center currently under contract—is not horrible, but it doesn't exactly make sense either.

What they have is a group of highly talented offensive guards, along with Marion (who remains efficient despite his advancing age), Nowitzki and James (who averaged just under 10 minutes per game last season).

Meanwhile, they've got Vince Carter coming off the bench to split time at the small forward and shooting guard spot, a bit of three-point shooting and some scrappy defense from Ellington, energy from Jae Crowder, and whatever they can get from Mekel and Ledo.

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As they are, Marion is the only consistent defender on their roster, and they're splitting 96 power forward and center minutes between Marion, Nowitzki, James and Wright, should he re-sign.

Of course, if they don't land Dalembert, they'll obviously be putting somebody else in the mix and giving them more minutes than somebody like James.

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Ellis adds a dynamic element to the offense, demanding a tough defender with his ability to get to the rim and superior passing ability—should he decide to actually use it.

Slap that on the court next to Calderon's natural ability to facilitate, Carter's suddenly stellar shooting and the wily style that Nowitzki gives you, and the Mavericks will run a legitimately fun offense.

Of course, that's dependent upon Ellis' day-to-day shot selection, along with the health of a 36-year-old Carter and two fresh 35-year-olds in Nowitzki and Marion.

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Given a healthy season, their offense will thrive with more fluidity than a year ago thanks to the addition of Calderon.

However, defensively, this team is a disaster. Calderon and Ellis might just make up the worst defensive backcourt in the NBA, while Nowitzki remains slightly above average when his body cooperates. Their centers will try hard, and Dalembert would certainly be a nice addition on defense, but at age 35, Marion remains their best defender.

Any team with more than one effective wing player—which is most teams in the NBA—will have a field day picking Ellis apart, unless the Mavs decide to go with Ellington for stretches at a time.

Downgrading on defense from Collison to Calderon and from Mayo—who isn't a great defender in the first place—to Ellis is going to be rough on a team that ranked 20th in defensive efficiency a year ago.

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The problem is that the Mavs are fighting an uphill battle in the Western Conference.

Barring injuries, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets are all playoff teams.

That leaves a final spot for the Mavericks and the rest of the Western Conference.

Dallas has a defense that will prove worse off this year and an offense that will likely be better, but it seems to be a wash overall.

Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves and possibly even the Los Angeles Lakers will be lurking.

Is the Monta Ellis addition enough for a playoff push on its own? Certainly not, but it should give the Mavericks an offense that could make them competitors.

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