Earlier in the season, I said quite emphatically that Monta Ellis was the Dallas Mavericks' best player.
He still is, but now, only by a slight margin.
That's because Dirk Nowitzki is playing like, well, Dirk Nowitzki—even at 35.
Still, if status of the Mavs' best player is a tossup between Ellis and Nowitzki, shouldn't that put Ellis directly in the conversation to play in his first All-Star game this February?
But first, let's establish some parameters. It must be mentioned that the talent pool of guards in the western conference is bottomless. There are so many deserving guards—it's just silly.
So, it's fair to say that as well as Ellis has played, he will have quite a difficult time earning a trip to New Orleans.
Also, keep in mind that if Ellis is selected, he will certainly not be a starter. That seems obvious, but it's critical to stay grounded in making his case.
Ellis' best chance to be an All-Star this season is through the coaches' vote. While he will receive a solid amount of fan votes, he will get beat out rather easily by more established superstars in this portion of the voting.
I've heard some Mavs fans say that Ellis' chances of selection increased after Kobe Bryant's recent left knee fracture. There is some truth to that statement, but it would be a stretch to say Ellis is the first name that would surface as a replacement for Bryant.
Now then, here is why Ellis should be selected to his first All-Star game.
a. It's about time. While he has never been considered a superstar, Ellis has been a model of a consistent scorer over his nine-year career. Except for his rookie season, he has averaged at least 17.5 points per game every year, per SI.com.
He has played for three teams in his career: the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks and now the Mavs. For a brief time, before Stephen Curry's arrival, he was the Warriors' best player. He was the Bucks' No. 1 scoring option in both seasons he was in Milwaukee, and now he is arguably the go-to guy in Dallas. His history as a deserving player who has been snubbed has to be part of his case now.
b. This season Ellis has displayed textbook consistency. In Dallas' 15 wins, Ellis has averaged 20.5 points and 6.8 assists, while shooting 47.8 percent, per ESPN. In the Mavs 12 losses, he's scoring 20.8 points and dishing out 4.8 assists while shooting 45.9 percent. These numbers suggest that Ellis has been huge in Mavs' victories and is rarely to blame in their defeats.
c. As heroic as Nowitzki continues to be, it can definitely be argued that Ellis is also making him better. Ellis' is by far the Mavs' best penetrator, a skill that Nowitzki is starting to lose a bit. Ellis constantly draws double teams, and generally, this creates an open shot or lane for Nowitzki. There is something to be said when you can actually make the face of the franchise a better player. Of course, that is a mutually beneficial relationship.
d. Ellis is having one of the most efficient seasons of his career. Per ESPN, he is on pace for his best shooting season since 2007-08. He hasn't shot better from downtown since 2010-11. The main point here, then, is that this season, Ellis is maintaining or surpassing his career averages across the board more efficiently.
Ellis will have to rely on his status as a historically deserving player. In a conference where Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and possibly even Damian Lillard will be on the bench, Ellis will have a tough time actually being selected.
But in my mind, he still deserves a selection. That hasn't ever changed.