Monta Ellis’s Time with Mavs Shows How He Can Thrive with Pacers

Feb 7, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Trail Blazers 111-101 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Trail Blazers 111-101 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The following breakdown of Monta Ellis was written as a special article for 8p9s by Rami Michail of The Smoking Cuban, FanSided’s Dallas Mavericks website. Follow Michail on Twitter @RyMichail

By signing Monta Ellis, the Indiana Pacers landed more than just the Dallas Mavericks’ leading scorer. They landed the engine to their high-octane offense.

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Many know Monta as a high-volume shooter with poor shot selection who doesn’t offer much on defense. While that may be somewhat true, he offers so much to the Pacers that many will overlook.

Ellis certainly had fan’s emotions all over the place during the last two seasons in Dallas, but this was always underpinned with a solid foundation. The shot-happy guard known as “Have it All” really does Have it All.

Monta Ellis’ Strengths

Scoring & Playmaking

During his two year stint in Dallas, Monta averaged 18.9 points and 4.9 assists. He even became the first player other than Dirk Nowitzki to lead the franchise in scoring in a season since Michael Finley did so — way back in the 1999-2000! More importantly, he became the player who Dirk and coach Rick Carlisle trusted with the offense, something Rajon Rondo couldn’t even gain.

Despite being 29, Ellis is still a blur on the court.

His ability to run the floor and push the ball is still tops in the league. He’s excellent at using that burst in the pick-and-roll, where he’s able to attack the big man and get to the basket. He’s also great at pulling up around the high-post and knocking down the mid-range jumper if the big man decides to sag off.

Monta Ellis 2014-2015 Shot Chart
Monta 2014-2015 Shot Chart /

As you can see, Monta took a great amount of shots at or near the rim. He still strays away from the basket and takes some long twos, but it’s not so much of an issue as it was during his Milwaukee Bucks’ days.

Along with being a great scorer when attacking the basket, he also is a great creator and underrated passer. Monta averaged 4.1 assists per game this season, which was fourth among shooting guards. Honestly, that number should have been far greater, but with Rondo in the mix and taking the ball out of his hands, his opportunities to create were severely diminished. The previous season, Monta averaged 5.7 assists a night, good for second in the league, and topped then-Pacer Lance Stephenson’s 4.6 assists.

Big Game Monta

If Dirk trusts you in a big game or when the game is on the line, you’re a gamer. And Monta has been that in Dallas that without a doubt.

In the postseason this year, Ellis upped his 19.0 ppg average to 26.0. He even did so more efficiently, as his shooting percentage jumped from 44.5% to 46.8%, further showing that he is much more than a gunner.

His overall numbers, while good, weren’t as impressive in his first playoff series with the Mavs during the 2014 postseason. But in Game 6 against the eventual champion Spurs, with Dallas down 3-2, Monta would have his best performance of the series. He scored a game-high 29 points to led the Mavs to a 2-point win that forced a Game 7.

You’ll see plenty of the good but also some of the bad (example: that late turnover at the end of the game).

He came up big in Dallas before that postseason series even started, too.

In a must-win game against the Phoenix Suns that clinched the final playoff spot for the 2014 playoffs for the Mavs, Monta led the way with 37 points.

Then there were the game winners.

He hit two memorable ones during his days in a Mavs uniform.

Monta Ellis’ Weaknesses


No one will ever mistake Monta for a good defender. He lacks size, attention, and discipline to guard most shooting guards. Plenty of times you’ll see him with his hands on his sides on defense while just gazing out to nowhere. He also loves to gamble and cheat the passing lanes, but when he whiffs, he leaves his teammates in a bad spot on the defensive end, especially when he lacks the urgency to recover back.

There is some hope that playing for Frank Vogel in a defensive culture may help him improve his focus, but Rick Carlisle wasn’t able to change his ways. Most players are who they by the time they hit 30 years old, so don’t expect much to change in Ellis’ 11th season.

Erratic Play

One thing about Monta: You don’t know what you’ll get out of him. But it’s not from game to game. It’s from quarter to quarter. He can easily shoot you into a game, but can shoot you out of one.

Against the Chicago Bulls on December 3, Ellis went from lead catalyst to villain to hero in a matter of minutes (thanks to a terrible Kirk Hinrich foul).

Then on March 22 against the Suns, Monta would go 4-for-22 from the field. But more alarming was his play in the fourth quarter, where he went 0-for-8. And majority of these made shots were possession after possession of him settling for long twos.


Ellis has never been a great — or even good — 3-point shooter. He has flirted with a respectable percentage in several seasons, but he takes more long-balls than anyone who shoots them as poorly as he does should.

A big part of his issues is that he shoots too many of his 3s off the dribble. But don’t be surprised if, when his feet are set, that you see him knock down a few here and there, especially from the corners.

Monta Ellis’ Fit in Indiana

There’s no doubt Ellis prefers the pick-n-roll and having the court spaced. So while it should be good for him that Roy Hibbert and David West are gone in the sense that Indiana will play a more open style, it also remains to be seen who’ll his running mate will be in pick-and-roll situations.

On the perimeter, Paul George and George Hill will be great fits alongside him on the wings. Hill might be the ideal guard to pair with Ellis due to his ability to play without the ball and defend both guard spots. And George was able to excel with Stephenson next to him and the burden of carrying the offense should be a lot lighter now with Ellis in the fold.

If the Pacers can find a way to figure out their front-court issues and use Monta as the key weapon in their higher-octane offense, the Pacers may see the best of Monta Ellis. The Pacers may be able to have it all.

Next: Roy Hibbert: The Indiana Pacers Scapegoat

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