The following shouldn't come as any surprise to Dallas Mavericks fans:
Monta Ellis has been the Mavericks' best player through the team's first eight games—and be prepared for that trend to continue.
The newcomer has led Dallas in scoring in five of the Mavs' first eight games. He already has two 30-point games to his credit. The Mavs are 5-3 so far.
To this point, Ellis has earned every penny of the three-year, $25 million dollar deal he signed with the Mavericks in the offseason. Just over $8 million per year is a bargain price for this level of production.
He's taken on some of the incredible offensive burden that Dirk Nowitzki carried for a decade. That's what Ellis was signed to do.
He's taking quite a few shots, but remember, he's a volume scorer that needs to get his looks to be at his best.
In the fourth quarter, Ellis has even shown flashes of former Maverick closer Jason Terry.
According to Tim MacMahon's ESPNDallas article, Ellis has embraced playing that role for this year's Mavs squad.
"I love that moment of the game; born for it,” Ellis said, sounding like Terry. “But [Carlisle] still had the confidence in me to call those plays when I was having a bad shooting night. It let me know how much confidence he has in me."
Despite missing seven of his first 10 shots through three quarters against the Washington Wizards Tuesday night, Ellis continued to play his game fearlessly.
When the Wizards cut the Mavs' lead to five points with just under eight minutes to play, Ellis took charge.
He scored each of Dallas' next 10 points as the Mavs went on a 10-3 run to close out the win.
Here are the highlights of what I think has been Ellis' best game so far, against the Atlanta Hawks.
Thanks to GDFactoryClips for the highlights.
From watching that video, you see that Ellis is scoring from all areas of the floor. He's even helping others get open. Check out his sweet behind-the-back pass to Nowitzki for a jumper at the 1:18 mark.
This relentless attitude was what made Jason Terry so special in his eight years with the Mavs.
MacMahon notes that, in fourth quarters this season, Ellis is averaging 6.1 points and shooting a whopping 60.7 percent.
"It's Terry Time" used to be the mantra of Mavs' fans when the team needed several big baskets in the final frame. Ellis might just be starting to make a name for himself as Dallas' new closer.
Dirk Nowitzki is still unquestionably the face of the Dallas Mavericks franchise. But, make no mistake—Monta Ellis is the best player on this team right now.