Monta Ellis: Key to Warriors' Success?

David WangAnalyst IJanuary 16, 2008

The Golden State Warriors are doing well so far this season and Monta Ellis is all smiles.

Under the lead of Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson, the Warriors are currently in eighth place in the tightly contended Western Conference.

This might not sound too impressive, but they are in front of strong teams that have disappointed this season, like the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets.

But the truth is, the Warriors have beaten the teams above them in the rankings a total of five times, including a win over Phoenix and two over San Antonio.

This all seems to make a strong case for the Warriors to have a chance in the playoffs, but recently things have become a little more frustrating. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and have escaped from close games due to some terrific plays by an individual who is underrated in the NBA.

No it's not Baron Davis or Stephen Jackson...It's Monta Ellis.

In the win over the Indiana Pacers, Ellis was the one who ignited the Warriors for a run in the end of the third and fourth quarters, showing everyone he can be clutch just like Davis.

The play that stands out the most is probably when Ellis drove pass Jamaal Tinsley, jumped from the free throw line, glided through the air, turned 180 degrees, and finished with a reverse layup...And the foul. This gave the Warriors a two point lead after the completion of the three-point play.

However, the biggest play of the night from Monta Ellis was the tip-in with 40 seconds to go. Baron missed a fadeaway and Monta somehow soared above everyone else and tipped in the miss to give the Warriors a three-point lead over the Pacers.

Yet nobody can even remember when Ellis was drafted. He just seemed to come out of nowhere for the Warriors, just like Kelenna Azabuike. That is, until he won the Most Improved Player Award last year.

Drafted out of high school in round two, 40th overall in the 2005 draft, Monta Ellis was regarded as a player who was probably not ready for the NBA at the time. He was drafted behind players like Andrew Bogut, Marvin Williams, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Andrew Bynum.

Sure, he can't lead a team into the playoffs like Deron Williams did last year, but Ellis was drafted into the right team for him—the Golden State Warriors.

Players who are fresh out of high school want to run. They want to play basketball like they did back in the school days—just run, and do whatever you want to. Don't worry about the coach yelling at you, you're the best player on the team anyways. And Don Nelson is even nicer than a high school coach...He doesn't even yell. He lets you run.

Monta Ellis started out his rookie year somewhat slowly, but flourished in his second year, winning the Most Improved Player Award. The main reason? Nellie ball. He had fun on the court and really was a good addition to the Warriors bench.

And this year without Jason Richardson, it's really time for Ellis to play.

He can jump, he can run fast, and he can dunk. Quite impressive for a 6'3" 177 lb. guard.

This year Ellis is really proving he was a steal from the 2005 draft. He matured as a player and understands his strengths and weaknesses. From his shot selections it can easily be noted that he relies his mid-range jump shots very much. His decrease in three point field goal attempts shows that he understands he is not a three-point shooter—much like Tony Parker.

When teams play Warriors, they used to focus their attention on Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson's threes. Now they have a serious problem—Monta Ellis. He can posterize a center with a dunk, glide through the lane to finish an and-one play, or simply shoot over you.

Thus far, Ellis has shown that he is a great fit to the Warriors.

Now it's time for him to get the recognition he deserves.