Clearly, we're not seeing the same guy. But, why? A few potential reasons:
1. His ankle isn't completely healed
Certainly a possibility, but with a relatively young guy with over a year to heal, and what with the injury not really being something used in basketball that much, I'm inclined to think it's probably not a big problem.
2. He's just rusty
It's been 6 months since he's been back. Sure, not a lot of live NBA action there, but he should be back up to speed. This is not the issue.
3. He's having a bad start
Sure, a definite possibility. Especially given the turmoil so far this season. However, he's also having some problems that have nothing to do with bad luck. He does not seem to be able to beat his man off the dribble last time we saw him at full speed.
4. Is he more the focus of the defensive attention
A possibility, certainly.
5. He bulked up too much.
I think this is definitely having an effect on his game.
Monta circa 07/08:
Monta circa 08/09:
Maybe it's just me, but Monta looks like he's been working out... a lot. He looks thicker in the trunk, he's got bigger (yes, tatted too) arms and much bigger shoulders. Is this added weight slowing him down? I say, yes.
The question, regardless of the reason, is: Can Monta adapt to the new body/defensive attention/etc. and get his offensive game and scoring efficiency back to where we'd all like it to be?
Now, I fully expect his jumper to come back within the next dozen games. Once this becomes more of a constant threat, defenses will not be able to key on his right hand, as it won't be his only major weapon. He definitely needs to develop his lefty drive a bit more as well, but that's not easy. It's especially mentally difficult to start using it in a game situation. It's a big confidence hurdle he'll have to pass, but it's one he absolutely needs, if he's going to be slower to the punch with his right.
Allen Iverson was successful because he was one tough cookie and his svetle frame was somehow able to take the punishment of constantly going inside while maintaining his quickness advantage. For all his faults, he was a special talent in that he was often the quickest player on the floor (in part because he never added "bulk") and could beat you going right even if you knew it was exactly where he wanted to go. I feel like this is something Monta had to some extent, but his recently added bulk has negatively impacted.
Overall, I really do like the defensive attitude and aggressiveness I've seen out of him, and he has not looked nearly as completely overpowered as he has in the past. This is a good thing, but the offensive game still needs to be there. I hope it's a learning curve, I hope he can get there, and I hope this is one of those "it gets worse before it gets better" things. However, I'm not remotely certain that this is the case. Sorry for the ramble, but I've been wondering if anybody else has noticed what I'm seeing. If Monta can play effectively with this added bulk, he can be a viable 2 guard beside Curry. The next hurdle would be getting Monta to accept that role...