Before we roll into the upcoming regular season, let's take a look back at this current roster with a recap of their previous season (except for the rookies) and a prediction of what's coming up. We'll do this alphabetically starting with Azubuike and ending with Wright.
6 years, $66 million, 1 stupid decision, 1 big lie, 1 more season down the drain.
I'm still mad at Monta so I'm not going to let up on Monta as a liar, Monta as Pinocchio and Nellie as Geppetto? He should be punished not only for lying, but for doing something that was illegal in his contract. If the Warriors don't make the playoffs this year, one big reason will be that moped.
Before he even had a chance to step on the court to show that he could be The Man, Monta reminded us all that he's still not ready to be the #1 guy, he's still way too immature and needs to grow up.
Hit the jump for the recap and prediction. Leave your thoughts, grades, and predictions in the comments.
2007-2008 Season Recap
He had a great year, no doubt about it. He broke out. He went from sitting on the bench behind Kelenna Azubuike at the start of the season to playing 40+ minutes a night and being virtually unguardable. He conjured up all kinds of nicknames, Mississippi Bullet, Montazing, and my favorite, One Man Fast Break. Check out the February stat lines: 40mpg, 26ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.3 spg, and get this 60% FG. All in all, he finished the year averaging a shade over 20 point per game on 53% shooting from the field and 77% free throw shooting.
Early on, he was able to score because defenses were not paying attention to him as much as they should have. They concentrated their efforts on stopping Baron Davis. Monta certainly took advantage. Then defenses realized how dangerous Monta was and shifted to give help towards that side. It really didn't matter, Monta always hurt them.
The reason I can't give him a A is his defense. Nobody would ever confuse Monta with being a good defender. There were no guards in the league that had any hesitation going right at him. And it's really going to be a problem in the future unless he learns how to move his feet quicker. He's such a small guard that unless he really does learn how to play point the Warriors will have to pair him with a taller, bulkier guard to make up for his deficiencies. I'm really not sure why he doesn't play man to man defense better, he's got some of the quickest feet in the league. Move them, young man. Slide!
Monta Ellis will not be the Monta Ellis that we expect him to be. I don't think he gets to 100% until March of this season or perhaps next season. It's tough to recover 100% from major surgery in under a year. There have been plenty of players who take a year to fully recover from major surgery. Unless Monta is the quick healer that people think he is, don't expect Monta to play at Monta speed. As much as it pains me to say it, I think he'll be half a step slower due to the injury.
Maybe the lack of speed will help him develop his game. He won't be able to rely on blowing by guys to get his shot off. He'll have to learn more ball fakes, use screens more effectively, and learn those veteran savvy moves. Those moves that usually take years of experience to get to know. It's the subtleties of the jab step, pump fake, step back, and hesitation that he'll probably need to learn. If he's half a step slower, it'll be much harder to get off that pretty layup or that smooth mid-range jumper. He's grown every year he's been in the league, this might be the year he has to learn it's not all about his speed. If he does, it'll prolong his career.
In addition to learning how to still score without the ridiculous speed he has, he's also got the added responsibility of playing the point - something he's never done before. Nellie had him bring the ball up occasionally but there were never prolonged stretches where Monta played the point and the Warriors played well. Many times when Baron was off the floor, the offense stumbled and things just looked completely disorganized. Thus the reason Baron was playing 40+ minutes on a set of bad knees and a bad back. There's simply no way Nellie plays Baron all those minutes if he had a suitable backup option at point. Monta was not that answer last year. I really don't think he'll ever be that option in his career. He's not that kind of player. His game is getting to the hoop, hitting a jumper, but not setting people up. The assists he gets are on drives and when people converge on him he dumps the ball off. That does qualify him to run an offense. He's certainly got all the tools capable to be a point guard, but given his lack of experience at the position and style of play, I just don't see him even being a top point guard to initiate an offense.
Look, I'm extremely happy the Warriors have a talent like Monta, I'm just worried that we have an undersized 2 guard trying to play point. I now question whether he can make smart decisions on the court as a full time point and off the court as a young kid with tons of money. For better or worse, he is the face of the franchise.
Maybe I'm overly critical, but in order for him to now live up to the expectations and the money he's getting paid, he's going to have to step up his game as the full time point, be a leader on and off the court, and rehab his ass off and get back before the new year. He's no longer that 2nd round bargain getting paid under a $1 million. He's the face of the franchise and if we don't go deep into the playoffs during the next 6 years, it'll have been a huge waste of money.