There seems to be a near consensus amongst the GSOM faithful that the Warriors’ biggest position of need is at point guard. Almost everyone this side of Don Nelson thinks that Monta Ellis should be, and always will be, a shooting guard, and that the Monta@point experiment should be abandoned. With the draft fast approaching, this topic needs further discussion. And if GSOM is good at one thing, it’s discussing the crap out of something.
I, for one, contend that we should not be so hasty in calling for the abandonment of the Monta experiment.
1) At least give him a damn training camp at the position!
Monta is still a very young player, and does not have much experience playing the 1. He’s got a lot to learn. But do we know for certain that he can’t pick up some of the requisite knowledge to play the position? Our natural inclination is to look at him solely as a great scorer, because that’s all we’ve seen him do. And with Baron getting the reps at point in previous training camps, and the moped ordeal last training camp, he hasn’t been able to properly prepare to do anything else.
I think we should give him a chance to learn the position a little more: passing angles, reading defenses, reading his teammates’ movements, the art of the bounce pass, etc. But we also need to give Nelson a chance to teach him some plays. Monta doesn’t have natural point guard tendencies because he hasn’t played the position, so getting reps in training camp with actual plays is a critical step in him preparing for the position.
2) He’s a defensive liability at Shooting Guard.
You don’t see many people arguing against this one, and yet the only solution presented seems to be, “pair him with a big point guard capable of defending the 2”. Who and where are these magical big point guards? Is there a Magic Johnson Tree hidden in the depths of the Amazon rain forest? Or is it as simple as landing the #2 pick in the draft and selecting Ricky Rubio, who will instantly cure all that ails us? But we’ll get back to that in a moment.
Monta may be a defensive liability regardless of which backcourt position he plays—if he only put more effort into fighting through screens, it might be a different story, but I digress—and so pairing him with a good on-ball defender is of great importance. Someone with length, height, and toughness, who’s willing to work hard on the defensive end and relishes playing against great offensive players. Maybe one who can also pass a little bit. Hmm, that description reminds me of someone... Captain somethingorother?
3) Do we really have any great alternatives?
I’d be as happy as the next guy if we somehow attained a franchise point guard. Why not? If Chris Paul were in a Warriors uni, who really cares if we have one of the smaller backcourts in the league? Maybe Chicago doesn’t like the pressure of playoffs and expectations of a bright future, and decide to trade Derrick Rose?
No, the reality is that we’re much more likely to end up with Raymond Felton, or Jarret Jack, or Kirk Hinrich. In the draft, maybe we end up with Jennings, or Lawson. Is a pairing of any of those guys with Monta better than one of Monta + Jackson? Monta will never be a 10+ APG player, but will any of those other guys, either?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for drafting a point guard—if he’s the BPA. We certainly need a better passing game, and a pass-first point guard off the bench would be great. Watson has made strides, but mostly as a scorer, and Ty Lawson would probably be an instant improvement over CJ in most aspects of the game.
But we do have other needs, primary rebounding and defense. And I think it’ll be a lot easier for us to find a versatile 3 that can give us a bit of both, rather than find a point guard that’s good enough to make up for the weaknesses of Monta at the 2 and Jackson at the 3. Monta’s not an ideal point guard, but there are very few that are, and barring some miracle where we DO get our ideal point guard, let’s give Monta a training camp to see if he can do the job.