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The Man under the Radar: Wayne Ellington's Evaluation

DETROIT - APRIL 06:  Wayne Ellington #22 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates with his teammates after defeating the Michigan State Spartans 89-72 during the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Ford Field on April 6, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Timber WolfAnalyst IISeptember 9, 2009

I don't know why the Wolves have been so focused on Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio when Wayne Ellington has the qualifications to be right in discussion with them.

One thing that really made the Wolves better in the draft was drafting players with specific skill sets that can help us now, thus making sure that we know we're getting one super bona-fide skill, and not just average all-around skills.

While Ellington can prove to be a lot more then just a shooter, as a rookie, he will play the role of "off guard."

There are various types of guards:

  1. Point Guard: Purely facilitators or distributors, playmakers and penetrators. Usually excelling in ball handling, speed, and basketball I.Q. I.E Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, etc.
  2. Shooting Guard/Combo: A guard with ball handling skills of a point guard with a knack for creating his own shot and breaking down defenses. Also known to be facilitators, but not as much as point guards. I.E Kobe Bryant, Brandon Roy, Joe Johnson, etc.
  3. Off Guard: Purely a guard who can spread the defense because of a great shooting ability. One that requires a dominant ball handler to feed the ball to him. In other words, a guard who specializes in coming off screens, shooting off of the dribble and on the kick out passes. Normally under the radar for any other skills.

This brings me to Ellington, who was taken with the 28th pick in the 2009 NBA draft.

Although there were many questions about him, he did not disappoint in the summer league, finishing with averages of 14 points and 52 percent shooting beyond the arch. He shot over 20 three-pointers in five games, giving him a shooting average of at least four attempts a game.

Why the high percentages?

Because he's a true off guard.

"I think I'll be a great asset to any team with a ball handler that needs someone to spread the floor...I think my great shooting ability will be great for any team," Ellington said.

Do the Wolves have capable ball handlers? Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions? Yeah, I think so.

Although the summer league is not a great justification of future stats in the NBA, one could conclude that Jonny Flynn and Wayne Ellington had the best team chemistry in the whole summer league.

Whether Flynn was passing with a no look, a kick out, or a simple behind the back pass on the fast break, Ellington was there to catch the ball and shoot it almost instantly.

It was almost automatic every time Flynn passed the ball to an open Ellington that a three-pointer was attempted and made.

Amongst the top college shooting guards in the draft, only Terrence Williams had fewer possessions to work with. The difference is as much as 50 percent compared to some prospects. With that in mind, Ellington indeed ended up being one of the most efficient shooting guards in this draft, ranking first in field goal percentage (48 percent) and third in points per possession (1.04).

In our wing players, Corey Brewer will most likely start at the two guard if he carries the momentum from his last summer league game to the preseason.

But if Ellington starts, I know we're getting a guy that can really shoot open jumpers and hit at least 40 percent of them. With Flynn and Sessions creating, Ellington—not to mention Ryan Gomes—will get plenty of open looks on the floor.

I also think that the Wolves should have that "taking two point guards back to back when they need a shooting guard" talk completely executed. I think Ellington is that shooting guard we need, it just so happens that he's not incredibly athletic (DeMar DeRozan), he doesn't have incredible intense defense (Williams), and he's not an undersized scorer (Curry); he's a shooter.

And he does it well.

Thanks for reading!

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