Luka Doncic knows Monta Ellis is one of the veterans who have worked out with the Dallas Mavericks. The 13-year NBA veteran, who actually spent two seasons with the Mavs, last played in the 2016-17 NBA season. This move by the front office seems to be in aid of the development of the relatively young squad.
A veteran like Ellis will do wonders for the Mavs’ young guns. But at 35-years-old and four years removed from the league, can Ellis be of value to a team that’s gunning for a title?
While 35-years-old is pretty old by sports standards, it’s not old enough to be useless. In today’s NBA, there are several players who are at least 35 but continue to be productive players. LeBron James, Chris Paul, PJ Tucker, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, George Hill, Goran Dragic are just some of these players. And if the Mavs do sign Ellis for the 2021-22 NBA season, we should at least give the benefit of the doubt to the coaching staff that the guard is indeed physically fit for the NBA. We also have to trust that Ellis has adjusted his game style according to what he can physically do. During his prime, Ellis was a quick and feisty guard with an explosive first step. He’s incredibly good around the ring. He’s a fantastic athlete who can finish who can in traffic with ease.
We can’t expect this similar explosiveness from Ellis this time around. Though his tenacity and inherent competitiveness will power him to show flashes of his old self, Ellis will likely rely on his perimeter game which was a lethal weapon he utilized in his prime. In fact, the mid-range jumper has always been in his offensive arsenal. This is one of the main reasons why defenders had a hard time containing him. He’s just a complete offensive player. In his first stint in Dallas, Ellis practically made a living off his midrange mastery. Two-man game with then Mavs’ big men Tyson Chandler and even Dirk Nowitzki were his bread-and-butter.
If there’s one qualm about Ellis, that would be his lack of a reliable 3-point shooting stroke. He’s a career 31.4 percent shooter from deep. We have no clue as to where Ellis’ 3-point shooting is right now. Did he put in the work in those four years he was out of the league? Maybe yes, maybe not. We don’t really know what happened behind the curtains. The Mavs need answers. What we have right now are the statistics. Ellis does not have that 3-point stroke in the bag.
However, this won’t be the end of the road for Ellis. Obviously, he won’t be the ideal two-guard when Doncic is around. To utilize your team who has an elite passer like the Slovenian, you need shooters on the Mavs. We cannot rely on Ellis to knockdown wide-open 3-point shots with consistency. Instead, Ellis will be more productive as a backup to Luka Doncic. It’s understandable to tag Ellis primarily as a scoring guard. But statistics suggest that the veteran actually has some playmaking chops. In his stint with the Bucks and the Warriors, he averaged as much as 6.0 assists per game which is his career-high.
There’s a possibility he reaches this number again with the help of new coach Jason Kidd. Add to the fact that the Mavs’ added 3-point assassins Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown to the fold.
To sum it all up, what Ellis will bring is some depth to the Mavs’ backcourt. We can only hope that he turned into an elite 3-point shooter during his time off.
If not, then he can still be a productive part of the Mavs’ particularly as a backup guard. His mastery of the midrange and playmaking will be of great help when Luka Doncic sits.