Monta Ellis: The Mississippi Bullet
Not too long ago, Monta Ellis was just a skinny rookie, stuck on the end of the Warrior's bench.
He wasn't picked until the second round (40th overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft, doubted because of his lack of size, and a left knee injury sustained a few months earlier.
He was overshadowed by fellow Warriors guards Baron Davis and Jason Richardson.
Ellis was so under-the-radar that people regularly mispronounced his name "Mon-tuh" instead of "Mon-tay."
Now, times have changed.
Ellis, 22, is practically a one-name star in the NBA world. Drafted out of Lanier High in Jackson, Miss., Ellis is already one of the hottest young stars in the NBA, and definitely one of the most popular Warriors.
Ellis' fame is growing rapidly, powered by his electrifying style of play and his rags-to-riches story. Winning the 2006 season's Most Improved Player award didn't hurt, either.
The Warriors haven't had a blossoming star of this magnitude since Gilbert Arenas' second and final season with Golden State in 2002- 03. Ellis even has a nickname. "The Mississippi Bullet" was given to him because of his speed and quickness on the court.
According to the Warriors, Ellis and point guard Davis are the most requested by the media. He's been second on the team in jersey sales in each of the past two seasons, and has closed the gap on Davis with a 30 percent increase so far this season.
To be sure, this is a lot of spotlight for a teammate of a player as popular as Davis. Can Ellis handle it?
Those close to him have no doubt. They say Ellis' down-home humility, focus, and jovial personality leave them with little concern that he might become spoiled by fame.
One thing that is likely to change is that Ellis will get even more famous. At the rate he's going, he could turn out to be one of the most popular players in the NBA.
Ellis' status this off-season lies in the free agency realm. For the moment, Chris Mullin has confirmed to all Warriors fans that Monta and blossoming center Andres Biedrins will "certainly be back".
If Mullin decides otherwise, he will not step foot in the Warriors facility again. Saying that, I don't think the Warriors will give up Monta Ellis unless it's a deal including Lebron James or Kobe Bryant (ha ha ha).
This kid has got game. Give him two or three more years, and he will develop into the most known NBA young star of his generation
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